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Flora & Fauna Roundup

January 13, 2012

Researchers have discovered what makes buttercups so shiny.



A buttercup’s yellow shine. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

For generations, children have held buttercup flowers under the chins of their friends to see if they liked butter—as revealed by a yellow glow on their chins. But until recently, scientists didn’t know why these flowers were so uncommonly shiny. Now British researchers have found that the flowers have a layer of exceptionally flat cells on their petals, as well as an additional reflective layer just below them. Together, they account for the flower’s glossiness. They say the petals not only reflect yellow light, but also UV light that’s invisible to us, but attractive to pollinating insects. 

In other news, University of Oregon researchers report  that the first fish like creatures to climb onto land lived in flooded forests rather than arid pools, as was thought. They likely developed their limbs negotiating water choked with roots and fallen branches. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.