Dancing bird turns the forest into its own personal disco

December 16th, 2010 - 4:49 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 16 (ANI): By displaying dramatic flashes of colour with its feathers, male bird of paradise Lawes’ parotia turns the forest into its own personal disco, according to a new study.

The bird actually trumps dance club and fashion technology, since no known material has ever duplicated the brilliant hues and eye-catching color changes produced by this flashy avian dancer, reports Discovery News.

Co-author Daniel Osorio and colleagues came to that conclusion after examining the breastplate plumage of the bird using powerful microscopes and a device called the “scatterometer,” which allowed the researchers to detect the complex optical properties of the feathers and how they reflect light in all directions at once.

“The parotia feather is unique in that each of the tiny barbules that are linked to make the feather blade is shaped so that it has two outer surfaces whose structure means that it reflects blue light in two different directions, while the interior of the feather contains a third mirror, made of multiple layers of keratin and melanin, which reflects yellow light between the two blue beams,” said Osorio.

Male Lawes’ parotia work the effect as he bobs, bows and dances performed for females during courtship display at chosen locations in the forests of southeast and eastern Papua New Guinea.

“Somewhat metallic colors can appear to almost gleam as they catch the light. As the bird moves, they will switch between blue, yellow and black as the bird makes an elaborate sequence of dance steps on the forest floor or during displays on low branches,” said Osorio.

On occasion, the male dancer will even erect his feathers so they face the sun, likely hoping to dazzle the female viewer with an extra burst of color.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (ANI)

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