MANFRED KAGE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MANFRED KAGE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Feather. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of barbules (blue) making up the structure of a feather. The flat broad vane of a feather is formed by comb-like rows of filaments called barbs, which project from either side of a central shaft (rachis, green, across upper right). Each barb has rows of minute filaments called barbules. The barbules on one side bear hooks, while those on the other have a groove. The arrangement is such as to hook adjacent barbs together, linking the whole structure. This makes the feather strong yet flexible and light, which is ideal for flight. Magnification unknown.
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