Tag Archives: animals

Why do animals glow?!

I’ll get to the point: animals and fungi glow because they like to rave throughout the night.

jk.

The truth is, organisms glow for many reasons (raving being one of them).

Some animals glow as a form of counter-illumination.

The firefly squid is one example of this. If a predator is swimming below the animal and looking up at it, it actually makes a dark background against the surface. When the squid’s belly is being lit up, it can actually blend itself into its surrounds a little bit better.

In animals, the light is produced in photophores, which is basically an organ whose job is just to produce photons. The COOL thing with this is that some animals, instead of producing the photons themselves, will sometimes house a bacteria (Allivibrio fischeri) in this organ in a symbiotic relationship (=BFFs). In this case, it’s the bacteria IN the organs IN the biggest that are actually emitting light.

anglerfish with bioluminescent bulb hanging from forehead

For example, take this anglerfish…Yes, it’s also the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen. I bet rotting livers on dead people are more attractive. But the anglerfish DGAFs whether or not its body is attractive or ugly…because it’s that danging light blob that does the actually attracting. (Even more precise: it’s the bioluminescent bacteria living inside the wispy  organ.)

Lil’ fishes get curious when they see a light floating around in the ocean…and they go explore…and then they get eaten up by the ugly-but-efficient anglerfish. Work smart, not hard, says the wisdom of the anglerfish totem.

Love… Ahhhh. The reason for being alive and the culprit for a lot of our problems. We try to hard putting ourselves out there and also trying to play it cool. Wouldn’t it be badass just to have your eyeballs light up whenever you found someone attractive? There’d be no need to be so vulnerable.

cat with glowing eyes
Yep, that’s tots bioluminescence.

Another reason why bioluminescence occurs is to attract a mate. This is one of the more commons reasons why animals (and fungi) barf out photons from various parts of their bodies.

bioluminescent barfing fish

Okay…NOT literally. I actually have no idea what’s happening to that fish. Maybe it thought a glowstick was some Pop Rocks.

What I was referring to was insects like fireflies. Different species of fireflies light up in different patterns, just like morse code. This helps communicate to the ladies: “Hey babe, look how hawt I am, come on over!”

 

 

bioluminescent firefly up close micro
oh hai  (0_0)

fireflies-in-the-forests-of-nagoya-city

There are many more animals that are bioluminescent for the same basic reasons: to attract mates or defend against predators.

6563152219_4d99c27807_b
Glow worms in cave
bioluminscent jellyfish in ocean
Comb Jelly
7231284258_1f6ea4be5d_b
Bioluminescent millipede

Zooplankton2_300

glowworm closeup
Glowworms

Bolitaena_pygmaea_femaleTomopteriskils

2947977752_678a4a29d7_b
Bioluminscent plankton in ocean

bioluminescent insect gif

bioluminescent plankton in waves along shore

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements