The peacock's train (Pavo cristatus and Pavo cristatus mut. alba) II. The molecular parameters of feather keratin plasticity

Thermal activation analysis of plastic deformation of peacock tail feathers, by temperature changes and stress relaxation, gave for the keratin cortex an activation enthalpy of 1.78±0.89eV and an activation volume of 0.83±0.13nm3, for both the blue and the white subspecies. These values suggest that breaking of electrostatic bonds is responsible for plasticity in feather keratin. These might be bonds between keratin and nonkeratinous matrix or keratin-keratin cross-links. The mechanical properties of the rachis cortex are surprisingly uniform along the length of the feathers.