Dr Andrew Parker (b. 1967), biologist

Dr Andrew Parker (b. 1967), biologist

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Credit: JAMES KING-HOLMES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Dr Andrew Parker (b. 1967), Australian biologist, holding a trilobite fossil. Parker is a research fellow at Oxford University. He was the first to discover the existence of photonic crystals in animals. Photonic crystals are microscopic structures that bend and manipulate light. They have been found in butterfly wings, sea mouse spines, weevils and the lobed comb jellyfish. He has also published his 'light switch' theory about the Cambrian explosion (543 million years ago). This period experienced a massive increase in species diversity within a short period of time. His theory suggests this was due to the evolution of the eye, allowing predators and prey to evolve new physical appearances.

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