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Iridescence in the neck feathers of domestic pigeons.

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We conducted structural characterizations, reflection measurements, and theoretical simulations on the iridescent green and purple neck feathers of domestic pigeons (Columba livia domestica). We found that both green and purple barbules are composed of an outer keratin cortex layer surrounding a medullary layer. The thickness of the keratin cortex layer shows a distinct difference between green and purple barbules. Green barbules vary colors from green to purple with the observing angle changed from normal to oblique, while purple barbules from purple to green in an opposite way. Both the experimental and theoretical results suggest that structural colors in green and purple neck feathers should originate from the interference in the top keratin cortex layer, while the structure beyond acts as a poor mirror. Publication Types: Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Authored by Yin H, Shi L, Sha J, Li Y, Qin Y, Dong B, Meyer S, Liu X, Zhao L, Zi J. Surface Physics Laboratory and Department of Physics, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, People's Republic of China.

Published in Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2006 Nov;74(5 Pt 1):051916. Epub 2006 Nov 22. The full report is available online. link   A subscription to the periodical may be required.

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