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PhysOrg

Hummingbirds' rainbow colors come from pancake-shaped structures in their feathers

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Hummingbirds are some of the most brightly-colored things in the entire world. Their feathers are iridescent— light bounces off them like a soap bubble, resulting in shimmering hues that shift as you look at them from different angles. While other birds like ducks can have bright feathers, nothing seems to come close to hummingbirds, and scientists weren't sure why. But a new study in Evolution shows that while hummingbird feathers have the same basic makeup as other birds', the special shape of their pigment-containing structures enables them to reflect a rainbow of light.

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