POWER AND SYRED / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY POWER AND SYRED / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Feather. Coloured scanning electron micrograph of barbs, barbules and barbicels on the feather of a wren, Troglodytes troglodytes. The flat broad vane of a feather is formed by comb-like rows of filaments called barbs which project from either side of the central shaft. Similarly, each barb has two rows of minute filaments called barbules. The barbules on one side bear hooks called barbicels (seen here) while those on the other have 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. Magnification: x270 at 5x7cm size.
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