Bird of Paradise feathers absorb 99.95% of light

This article originally featured in The Skylark’s newsletter and was written as a condensed news in brief.

Birds of paradise are adored the world over for their colourful plumage and beautiful patterns. But as researchers increasingly study these rare birds, extraordinary discoveries are being made.

Pioneered by evolutionary biologist Ed Scholes and ornithologist and wildlife photojournalist Tim Laman, the Bird of Paradise Project was set up by Cornell University. One of their top finds was the discovery of the Vogelkop superb bird of paradise and its classification as a new species. Found exclusively in the far western region of New Guinea, further analysis has also found that their characteristic black feathers are so dark that they absorb 99.95% of light. This intensity of black dramatically increases the contrast with its turquoise highlights, thereby increasing its chances of a mate – along with the help of its charming dance ritual.

This puts these natural feathers on a par with the infamous Vantablack; an artificial system that absorbs 99.965% of light making it the darkest substance on earth. However, while Vantablack was created in a UK lab, the Vogelkop’s feathers naturally evolved over millennia.

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