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Structural Colour in Animals

Pachyrhynchus sarcitis weevils are flightless weevils characterized by colored patches of scales on their dark elytra. The vivid colors of such patches result from the reflection of differently oriented 3D photonic crystals within their scales. The results show that hybrid P. sarcitis, the first filial generation of two P. sarcitis populations from Lanyu Island (Taiwan) and Babuyan Island (Philippines), mixes the color of its ancestors by tuning the photonic structure in its scales. A careful spectroscopical and anatomical analysis of the weevils in the phylogeny reveals the hereditary characteristics of the photonic crystals within their scales in terms of lattice constant, orientation and domain size.

Monitoring how structural coloration is inherited by offspring highlights the versatility of photonic structures to completely redesign the optical response of living organisms. Such finding sheds light onto the evolution and development mechanisms of structural coloration in Pachyrhynchus weevils and provides inspiration for the design of visual appearance in artificial photonic materials.

Photo courtesy by Lung-Chun Huang, Taipei Zoo, Taiwan.

 

Related Publications 

Hereditary character of photonics structure in Pachyrhynchus sarcitis weevils: colour changes via one generation hybridization
Y Chang, Y Ogawa, G Jacucci, OD Onelli, HY Tseng, S Vignolini – Advanced Optical Materials (2020) 8, 2000432