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Atlantic Puffin’s new research sheds light on its fluorescent peaks

Of all the scientific discoveries made recently, "puffins have bright beaks" would be hard to guess.

But when the ornithologist (the technical term for "bird scientist") Jamie Dunning looked at an Atlantic puffin under Ultraviolet light in February, he discovered that the puffin's beak was illuminated as if it were a neon sign or a luminous rod . I was trying something completely different, regardless of whether the more complex retinas of the birds would respond to the colors in the ultraviolet range, so the bright peaks were a surprise.

See for yourself:

Scientists have known since 2011 that a "bird's eye view" is really quite advanced, and that many species of birds are able to see more colors than only what appears in their plumage. While humans can see three basic colors of light, which are blue, red and green (and any combination of those three colors), birds have "tetrachromatic vision," which means that their retinas can capture a fourth basic color that We humans can not.

And describing this "fourth color" would be like explaining three dimensions to a two-dimensional character in Flatland, suffice to say that this fourth color extends within the ultraviolet range of the light spectrum. What it means is that other puffins can see more colors in their peaks than we see, and this somehow connects with their bright UV peaks.

Now, Dunning is studying more closely what causes a puffin's beak to fluoresce under light ultraviolet light. Now that you are working more directly with the peaks, you are wearing a pair of sunglasses the size of a puffin to make sure your birds do not hurt your eyes in the harsh light needed for the experiment.

If the idea of ​​"puffin sunglasses" sounds silly to you, you can be sure you have no idea:

So far, the working explanation for the fluorescent peaks of puffins is which is part of their mating process. The exclusive colors of UV probably look extremely eye-catching for those with enough retinal cones to see it, and the bright peaks are as close as humans can get to seeing that. In a statement made to CBC, Dunning described it this way:

  Opening quote

"The puff of a puffin was forged for generations, hundreds and thousands of years of sexual selection, and many things are happening there. why it's so colorful and beautiful. "

  Closing quote

Given that these previous dinosaurs are now listed as "vulnerable" in the list of endangered species, their mating habits will become more important as they try to keep them alive. So we'll have to know as much about their bright peaks as they can, if there's really a connection here.

Once the Atlantic puffin is no longer in danger, then we can discuss the launching of ultraviolet raves with these birds.


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