There are quite a number of variants in the Birds of Paradise which has been a fascination for many years to the oldest and largest organization devoted on the study of birds. These amazing creatures contain “a glossy orange colouring, and the exquisite delicacy of the loosely waving feathers…”
Microscopes that use a particle beam of electrons to illuminate a specimen which then produces a magnified image with more resolving power than an optical microscope has been instrumental in learning about these amazing birds! Scientists are just beginning to comprehend how the feathers are able to flash with such intense colors. Scientists now know that these colors are not produced by pigments but by organized and specified complex geometrical patterns.
In current biology, Pete Vukusic writes…
“The performance and function of such simpler systems as biological multilayers are well recognized, but despite recent progress in the use and development of measurement and modeling techniques in this area, there are many other structurally coloured systems whose detailed action and function are poorly understood.”
“This is largely due to the morphological complexity of their systems’ inherent photonic structures, which makes it difficult to discern their role and effectiveness. Photonic effects arising from complex system designs are usually attributed generically to coherent scattering and their purpose ascribed generally to conspecific communication or to camouflage. This is rather too vague, however, and it invariably overlooks strategic design features that have key implications in aspects of display behaviour.”
Iridescent flashing doesn’t just happen by chance. The design involves control at the microscopic level in three dimensions with a fourth dimension of time in the way the male manipulates the feathers for optimal effect. Why would a bird invest so much energy in these tiny little microscopic mechanisms? Vukusi points out that these structures are costly to create. “Such are the costs and, invariably, such is the optical efficiency and the optimisation of the systems’ designs, that significant biological function should genuinely be served.”
Not only are the birds feathers are amazingly designed but the article itself is amazing because it demonstrates that one can conduct scientific research without Darwinian evolution involved. It’s even quite remarkable that Vukusic doesn’t even mention evolution one time. There are those who confuse the term “science” with evolution, but they are not one in the same, otherwise no scientific research could be conducted without the assumption it evolved somehow. Vukusic in his study did mention, feather design, adaptation, and purpose which leaves the reader to conclude on his or her own on the origin (God, intelligent design or evolution). This is a great example of what secular science journals should imitate.
What we have here is science that adults and students alike can learn about these amazingly designed feathers, rather than reading about some invented story about how butterflies and birds arrived at these superior designs by “convergent evolution” or how natural selection somehow paid a high cost of photonic crystals so it could pass on bird genes or some observation that falsifies evolution where scientists praise the discovery leaving a project for them to force the data into a particular framework. The article overall represents a job well done with more to come!