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Nature & Environment

Tiny penguins turn blue

By T.K. Randall
February 15, 2011 · Comment icon 13 comments

Image Credit: sxc.hu
Scientists have discovered a special protein in fairy penguins that turns their feathers blue.
The fairy penguin may stand only 1 foot tall but it stands out for its unique appearance. "The mechanisms that produce structural coloration in animals is so little studied that I am not surprised at all that a new mechanism was found in penguins," says Geoffrey Hill of Auburn University.
For the last 30 years only two ways of making a non-iridescent blue feathers were known, both which depend on holes in a spongy-like matrix of a protein called beta-keratin. The pores in the matrix trap and reflect light in the blue color range.


Source: CBS News | Comments (13)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by aquatus1 14 years ago
Cool blue penguins, and neat matrix thing on the feathers...a little dramatic, I think, the whole "shatters current dogma", but otherwise, cool find.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Lilly 14 years ago
Oh...pretty penguin! Do they also come in pink?
Comment icon #6 Posted by Mistydawn 14 years ago
Only weighing 2 pounds.. wee cuties.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Tim.C Melbourne 14 years ago
There was a colony of these penguins near where I used to live. The curious little fellas used to swim right up to us while we were surfing, within arms reach. Although seeing a flash of black out of the corner of my eye before I realised what it was was enough to send shivers down my spine... (but the seals, dolphins & southern right whales did a better job of this!)
Comment icon #8 Posted by :PsYKoTiC:BeHAvIoR: 14 years ago
Reminds me of Easter Chicks:
Comment icon #9 Posted by cav3man. 14 years ago
They are cold! Give them a blanket or something
Comment icon #10 Posted by Tim.C Melbourne 14 years ago
They are warmer than you!
Comment icon #11 Posted by star energy 14 years ago
I want one! If it wasn't one of natures wildlife I'd diffentally have one as a pet! I'd call him Sky or maybe just plain Blue.
Comment icon #12 Posted by slowfade 14 years ago
A bad penguin-related joke, in celebration of these cute little fellas: Q: Why don't polar bears eat penguins? A: They can't get the wrappers off. ... I'll get me coat...
Comment icon #13 Posted by Mistydawn 14 years ago
A bad penguin-related joke, in celebration of these cute little fellas: Q: Why don't polar bears eat penguins? A: They can't get the wrappers off. ... I'll get me coat... Oh, I don't know, it wasn't that bad.... Question: What do penguins have for lunch? Answer: Iceburgers Question: Why don't you see penguins in Britain? Answer: Cause they are afraid of Wales.


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