Whitest Beetle

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Whitest beetle found according to reports in BBC News 18 January 2007 and New Scientist, 27 January 2007, p16. Researchers at Exeter University have found the whitest natural occurring substance in the scales on a beetle named "Cyphochilius".

White light consists of all colours or wavelengths of the visible light spectrum combined together. Surfaces appear coloured because they reflect some wavelengths of visible light more than others. If a surface reflects all wavelengths equally it appears white. The Cyphochilius beetle's scales consist of randomly arranged interweaving filaments which scatter all wavelengths of light in all directions so the beetle appears a brilliant white. The scales are extremely thin, about 5 micrometres thick.

According to Pete Vukusic who led the study, the scales are "25 times thinner than some of the whitest papers". He also commented to the BBC: "The degree of whiteness, given the scale's thinness, is the really impressive thing. We can create this quality of white synthetically, but the materials need to be much thicker. This could have many applications." The researchers suggest that the beetle evolved this whiteness so that it is camouflaged amongst white fungi where it lives.

Editorial Comment: Let us state the ignored obvious: if scientists find "many applications" for this research they will have proved that it takes a mind with knowledge and understanding to recognise how it works, and creative design to make something that achieves the same result. They will then have irrefutable proof that the beetle shell is a similar result of creative design and clever engineering.

The story about camouflage is a typical meaningless excuse to include the word evolution with every story about biology. The beetle may be able to hide from predators among fungi because it is already white, but that does not explain how it got to be white. It may have always been white and eaten white fungus, so that any other degenerate version which had lost total reflectivity (so it appeared coloured) got eliminated after predation came on to the planet and coloured beetles amongst white fungus were just easy pickings. (Ref. insects, bio mimicry, nanotechnology)

Evidence News 9 February 2007

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