Ultra-black scales camouflage deadly snake

The West African Gaboon viper’s pattern of cream, yellow, brown and black scales helps it blend in with leaves, but a new study has found that the snake’s black scales have ultra-black properties further disguising it. The viper has 2.2 inch-long fangs that can deliver a venom so deadly it can stop hearts, and new research shows the snake can be difficult to spot.

Using under an electron microscope, researchers found the black scales had intricate patterns of ridges upon ridges result in less than 11% of light being reflected away from the surface. The velvet black sites have “four times lower reflectance and higher absorbance than other scales in the UV.”

The study suggests that engineers studying the scales’ light absorption may be able to apply the knowledge to building more effective solar panels.

Read more at Nature