All Americans Bail Bonds – Banner
College Of The Canyons – Banner
Disco Fever – Banner
IHOP – Banner
Green Convergence – Sun Power – Banner
Hugo Naturals – Banner
Facey – Banner
Action Family Counseling – Banner
Patterson’s Collision Center – Banner
Beyond Harmony – Banner
AV Party Rental – Banner
Newhall School District – Public Hearing – Banner
Adage IT – Banner
Union Bank – Banner
Valencia United Methodist Church – Luau Lunch – Banner
Valencia United Methodist Church – Under God’s Sea – Banner
Newhall Land – Banner
Galpin Motors – Banner
Academy Swim Club – Banner
Simply Taylored – Banner
Nothing Bundt Cakes – Banner
Brent’s Carpet One – Banner
It is forecast to be Clear at 7:00 PM PDT on May 03, 2015
Home » Santa Clarita News » Environment » SCV Outdoor Report » SCV Outdoor Report: All That Glitters

SCV Outdoor Report: All That Glitters

By Wendy Langhans

If you somehow acquired x-ray vision and could see through my mud-caked hiking boots, you’d find ten toenails gleaming with vivid red nail polish, a leftover from a wedding we recently attended.

I can’t remember the exact name of the color – I think it was something like “Crimson… Cardinal… Vermilian… Carmine… Red.”

But did you know that the chemical that gave my nail polish a lustrous finish is the same chemical that gives fish a shiny metallic sheen?  What’s that chemical, you ask? (Here’s a hint – it’s one of the four chemical bases found in DNA.)



Iridescent nail polish

It’s guanine, or in the case of fish, guanine crystals.

Recent studies have found that the skin of certain fish contain highly iridescent photonic crystals made of guanine.  What’s more, these crystals are deliberately shaped to maximize reflection.

Do you like reading about the outdoors or are you interested in knowing what is going on in the Santa Clarita Valley for you and your family this weekend.  Top Things To Do This Weekend In Santa Clarita is a free E-Newsletter bringing you all that information in one neat email sent to your inbox once a week.  Sign Up now.

Guanine crystals grown in a laboratory are prism-shaped, while fish crystals resemble a stack of thin plates.

Now why would reflective skin be useful to fish?  To hide from predators, of course.  Anyone spending time near a lake knows just how reflective the water’s surface can be.



Water can be highly reflective

And there are plenty of fish-eating birds hanging around, such as cormorants and herons.



Cormorants are fish eaters


So are Black-Crowned Night-Herons

The cosmetic industry uses “fish scale essence” to achieve a lustrous, pearl-like gloss.  “Pearl” or “guanine” is literally made from small fish scales and skin, suitably cleaned, and mixed with solvents such as castor oil and butyl acetate.  Fish scale essence has also been used to make faux pearls for decorating clothing, which you can see in an upcoming exhibit at Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

How ironic that fish use guanine to help hide, while we humans use it to make ourselves more attractive.  And what’s even more ironic, the name guanine comes from the word “guano” (bird scat), from which the chemical guanine was first isolated and identified in 1844.  Maybe that nail polish is suitable for wearing with hiking boots, after all.


Upcoming Outdoor Events:

Every Saturday at 1:00 PM.  Animal Show at Placerita Canyon.

For more information, click here.

Friday, June 25, 9-11 PM.  Almost Full Moon Hike.  Towsley Canyon.  Night is a special time to explore the park.  For map, click here.

Trail Maintenance Schedule. Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails.  Contact Steve at for time and place.

Wednesday mornings, June 16, 23 & 30.

Saturday mornings, June 12 & 26


You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on “The Hike Report”, brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

For the complete MRCA hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, click here or go to


SCV Outdoor Report: All That Glitters

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

About KHTS AM 1220

All American Bail Bonds – News Banner
Academy Swim Club – News Banner
AV Party Rental – News Banner
Action Family Counseling – News Banner
Hugo Naturals – News Banner
College Of The Canyons – News Banner
Beyond Harmony – News Banner
Mannered Mutt – Tile
Facey – Tile
Academy Swim Club – Tile
Disco Fever – Tile
Manzanillo Restaurant – Tile
Valencia United Methodist Church – Luau Lunch – Tile