Ultra black bird


This bird’s feathers remain black even when coated in gold.


A gold-coated feather from a Paradise Riflebird is still very black.
A gold-coated feather from a Paradise Riflebird is still very black.
Dakota McCoy

This black feather from a Paradise Riflebird (Ptiloris paradiseus) still appears ultra black even when coated with gold.

This is because structural absorption contributes to the super black, velvety appearance.

These feathers have highly modified barbules – microscopic filaments on feathers – arranged in vertically tilted arrays, which significantly increase the scattering of light and thus can result in approximately only one hundredth of the reflectance of normal black feathers.

A detailed study of the feathers appears in Nature Communications.

Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
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