Nature & Environment
Tiny penguins turn blue
By T.K. Randall
February 15, 2011 · 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
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