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.