Structural colour

Opal analogue discovered in a weevil


Beetles in dimly lit tropical forests often display structural colours1, but in direct sunlight only part of the insect can be seen from any direction — it appears as a spot of light because multilayer reflectors on its rounded surface act like mirrors2,3. Here we describe a beetle, Pachyrhynchus argus, found in forests in northeastern Queensland, Australia, that has a metallic coloration that is visible from any direction owing to a photonic crystal structure analogous to that of opal4. To our knowledge, this is the first recorded example of an opal-type structure in an animal.

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Figure 1: Structure and optical properties of the scales of the beetle Pachyrhynchus argus.


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Correspondence to Andrew R. Parker.

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Parker, A., Welch, V., Driver, D. et al. Opal analogue discovered in a weevil. Nature 426, 786–787 (2003).

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