Butterflies make ultra-black, according to a report in Nature Science Update, 28 Jan 2004 and New Scientist 7 Feb 2004 p18. The bright blue colour of a butterfly named Papillo ulysees is enhanced by being surrounded by a deep black region on the edge of the butterfly’s wings. Black is actually the absence of reflected light and is usually achieved by using a mixture of light absorbing pigments. Peter Vukusic and colleagues at the University of Exeter, UK have found that the butterfly black is made blacker by tiny precisely aligned arranged pits in the black scales that trap light as it is refracted (bent) when it hits the scale surface. Chemical engineers at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, UK have been developing a black coating for use in optical instruments that works on the same principles, which is actually more efficient than the butterfly scales. Vukusic commented on the fact that since butterflies got there first, this shows the value of animals as a source of engineering information. He added: Biomimetics is growing in popularity. Wherever we can we should take our cues from nature.

Editorial Comment:It took clever engineering to develop light absorbing black for optical instruments, but it took a more clever engineer to make butterfly scales because He didn’t have to take engineering advice from anyone else. Biomimetics is the study of living things in order to inspire human technology, and as such, should be a testimony to the wisdom of God the Creator. Those who study biomimetics should also study the Bible to be warned about what happens to those who see the evidence of God’s work but refuse to acknowledge Him (Romans 1:18-30) (ref design, colour, biomimetics)