As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Puffins found to have hidden fluorescent beaks that may help them attract the opposite sex

The previously unknown patterns are only revealed to human vision under UV light

Josh Gabbatiss Science Correspondent 

Puffins have been found to have fluorescent beaks that glow under UV light. 

Scientists have long suspected that the well-known seabirds’ colourful bills are a form of display, perhaps involved in attracting the opposite sex.

But Jamie Dunning, an ornithologist affiliated with the University of Nottingham, always suspected there may be more to their beaks than immediately met the eye.

Birds like puffins possess the ability to see not only the red, blue and green light humans can see, but also wavelengths at the UV end of the spectrum.

This means they can see UV “colours” in objects humans cannot. Those colours can only be revealed to us by placing the objects under UV light.

In other species this knowledge has led scientists to discover patterns and colours in feathers that are not visible to humans.

“With a puffin’s bill you don’t have to look at it very long to see that there’s hundreds of thousands of years of sexual selection there,” Mr Dunning told The Independent.

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