This Fruit Is The Shiniest Living Thing In The Whole WorldS

Do you see these beautiful berries? These berries are the shiniest living things in the whole entire world. They are shinier than a blue morpho butterfly's wings. They are shinier than a scarab beetle's carapace. They are more sparkling than a child's sunny aura and more brilliant than all the secrets of the sea.

Congratulations, berries. We are all very proud of you.

"I have definitely seen a living thing shinier than that, before," you may say. Thanks for the lie, hater; you are incorrect.

Physicists from Cambridge University discovered the berries in a muffin they were eating! Haha, no, they learned of the berries on a colleague's recommendation while studying the reflectivity of certain plants, like buttercups and tulips.

Ulrich Steiner, one of the scientists whose study of the berry, Pointillist structural color in Pollia fruit, was just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, told NPR he wasn't even impressed by the berry at first, because it was "smaller than a blueberry" and how could anything good ever come out of something smaller than a blueberry? (Aside from an adorable tiny blueberry.)

Up close, however, Steiner reported that the fruit proved "incredibly luminous and intense."

The fruit's shininess stems from a combination of two factors: its high reflectivity (the berry reflects 30 percent of the light that hits it, while most surfaces reflect only a small fraction) and its "structural color," which comes from light's filtering down through the plant's coiled cells, which are arranged in layers of sheets. Most of the cells reflect blue light and absorb red, green and yellow, but some reflect the other colors and absorb blue. The resulting effect is a look Steiner describes as "pixelated."

Like a Chocolate Junior, the berry holds no nutritional value. In fact, scientists believe that's why it has evolved to become such a brilliant hue; it's speculated that birds pluck the berries either because they have mistaken them for another nutrient-rich plant, for use in mating displays, or because they're redoing their nests and want to decorate with a shiny bauble (seriously). Whatever the reason, the color seems crucial in helping to spread the plant's seeds.

To destroy the magic of the shiny fruit by learning more about it, check out the Discover Magazine write-up.

To see what the fruit looks like in context (while still on the Pollia condensata plant), click here.

[NPR // Image via AP/Silvia Vignolini et al. via PNAS]