UNITED NEWS INTERNATIONAL (UNI) — Birds of paradise aren’t bird-brained when it comes to optical illusions.
These birds have feathers nearly as dark as the darkest man-made material and they use them to attract mates.
New research published in the journal Nature Communications found their feathers are designed to trap light on a microscopic scale.
Most birds have flat feathers with central shafts that split into orderly branches, or barbules.
But some birds of paradise have feathers with tangled barbules that curve upward and are studded with tiny spikes.
One study author compared the shape to a “bottle brush or a piece of coral.”
Light that hits the feathers is trapped and absorbed as it bounces between the barbules and spikes.
Researchers say the feathers can absorb up to 99.95 percent of light.
The darkest man-made material — called Vantablack — uses similar structures to absorb 99.965 percent of light.