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. Similarly, each barb has two rows of minute filaments called barbules (visible here); 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 highlighted by using a Rheinberg illumination. Magnification: x100 at 35mm size.
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