OPTICAL CHARACTER OF SOME BRILLIANT ANIMAL COLOURS
thicker, finely laminated layer which is also striated vertically to the surface. With Prof. Clifton's kind assistance I have "been able to show that the appearances follow from interference of light, due to the presence of films of liquid between the larnelke of the lower layer. The microscope shows brilliant red and green tints by reflected light, while in transmitted light the complementary colours are distinct, but without brilliancy. The latter colours are seen to change when pressure is applied to the surface of the cuticle, and when the process of drying is watched under the microscope, owing in both cases to the liquid films becoming thinner. In the dry cuticle the solid lamellae probably come into contact, and prevent the admission of air, which, if present, would cause even greater brilliancy than liquid. The spectroscope shows broad interference-bands in the transmitted light, which change their position on altering the angle of incidence of the light which passes through the cuticle. Precisely similar colours, metallic on reflexion, non-metallic and with complementary tints on transmission, with the same spectroscope appearances and changes induced by the same means, are seen in the surface films which are formed on bottle-glass after prolonged exposure to earth and moisture. In the alternating layers of the pupa the chitinous lamellae are of higher, the liquid films of lower refractive index; hence water or alcohol produces brilliant appearances, while liquids of higher refractive indices produce less effect."
I owe to Prof. Poulton the opportunity of repeating some of these observations, such as the loss of metallic appearance on drying and of recovery under alcohol. On substitution of benzol with a little bisulphide of carbon for alcohol, the surface became very dark, but regained the golden glitter on going back to alcohol.
Of a specimen of another kind Prof. Poulton writes that the bug has been in the Oxford Museum Collection for 30 or 40 years, judged by the pin. It is brown when dry, but when soaked in water becomes green like a leaf with bright iridescent green stripes on the under side. This observation also I have been able to repeat. All of which, it need hardly be said, is strongly suggestive of interference.
Dr A. Hodgkinson also has described interesting observations. In his early papers* he distinctly refers the colours to Newton's scale, which in strictness would imply a limitation to a single thin plate. He emphasizes the importance, for purposes of identification, of recording the colours of feathers etc. as seen by perpendicular reflexion, a condition best secured by illumination from a small perforated mirror, behind which the eye is placed. When daylight is used, it often suffices to examine the object with one's back to the window and at some distance from it. I shall have occasion later to refer again to Hodgkinson's work.
* Manchester Memoirs, 1889; 1892, p. 149.d, and regular reflexions from the interior are'possible. Comparison may be made with the behaviour of a grating referred to below. ...... ........ • - 'ature, Vol. L. p. 223 (1894).918).stadt's.