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Bright white beetle's secret revealed

Lorenzo Cortese and Silvia Vignolini

Bright white beetle's secret revealed

The color white is a tough one for nature. The bright colors of birds, beetles, and butterflies usually come from pigments that absorb some colors of light while strongly reflecting others—but to produce white light, all colors must be reflected equally. Now, researchers have described the secret behind a Southeast Asian beetle’s bright white hue, BBC reports. The beetle’s scales are composed of an ultrathin network of fibers made from a protein called chitin that scatters visible frequencies of light in all directions, the researchers report this month in Scientific Reports, creating a white layer that’s thinner and lighter than any artificial material.

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