The Glorious Jewel Scarab and the physics of light
Also known as Glorious beetle and Glorious scarab, Chrysina gloriosa (Coleoptera - Scarabaeidae), is an unmistakable beetle found in the US (western Texas, New Mexico, southeast Arizona), and Mexico (Chihuahua and Sonora) .
The adults reach 25 to 28 mm long and are bright green with silver stripes on the elytra. However, this beetle (and several other species of beetle in the family Scarabaeidae), actually shine brighter than they appear, the result of a light trick that only a few animals on the planet can accomplish.
The fact is that hidden within the microstructure of the beetle’s exoskeleton there are helical twists and turns that enable certain species of scarabs the rare ability to create and reflect circularly polarized light. While many animals can create and even see linearly polarized light, there are very few examples of the creation of circularly polarized light in nature, and Chrysina gloriosa, a particularly adorable species of scarab, is one of those special few .
- Brady and Cummings (2010), Differential response to circularly polarized light by the jewel scarab beetle Chrysina gloriosa. The American Naturalist, Vol. 175, No. 5, May 2010.
- Blahó et al. (2012). No evidence for behavioral responses to circularly polarized light in four scarab beetle species with circularly polarizing exocuticle. Physiology & Behavior, Volume 105, Issue 4, 28 February 2012, Pages 1067–1075.
- Perception of Polarized Light.
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