POWER AND SYRED / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY POWER AND SYRED / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Light micrograph of part of a contour feather from a Kingfisher (family Alcedinae). The flat broad vane of a feather is formed by comb-like rows of filaments called barbs projecting from either side of the central shaft (seen here). Similarly, each barb possesses two rows of minute filaments called barbules; the barbules on one side bear hooks, while those on the other a groove. The arrangement is such as to hook adjacent barbs together, interlinking the whole structure. Thus the feather is strong yet flexible and light, making it ideal for flight. The contrast between the two types of barbule has been high-lighted by using a Rheinberg illumination. Magnification: x40 at 35mm size.
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