True green

Published: Tuesday 31 May 1994

GREEN pigments, scientists believed, were found only in plants. In most animals whose plumage or body parts appear green, the colour is seen not because of pigments but because of the refraction of light through the not-so-opaque scales or feathers.

Now, scientists from London's Natural History Museum and Oxford University have discovered that emerald moths, which have predominantly green wings, don't play optical tricks and actually produce the colour green (BBC Wildlife, Vol 12, No 4). The research team isolated a pigment -- dubbed geoverdin -- which accounts for the green colour in the 1,400 species of emerald moths. They say the pigment resembles chlorophyll, the substance that gives plants their green colour.

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