First we discovered that a platypus would look great at a rave, and now wombats, plebeians, and other marsupials can join the black light party – as scientists unexpectedly discovered that they all glow nicely in green, blue, and pink under UV light.
Over the past few years, scientists have found that bio-fluoridation is more common across mammals than we realized – with flying squirrels that Bubblegum pink glow, Which led researchers to find out the extent to which this trait is present in our mammalian heritage by investigating monotremes such as the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) – The the oldest It is still a living mammal breed.
Of course, once the glow of the platypus was detected, other researchers such as curator of the Western Australian Museum of Mammalogy, Kenny Travuelon and biologist Lynette Umbrillo,UV shine turreted on various samples in museum collections.
So far, their findings have been far from disappointing, with the revelations of neon wombats and shiny blankets.
Kenny Travouillon (@travouillonK) November 5, 2020
“We only tried this on over two dozen mammals, so it wasn’t comprehensive research.” Travuelon told ScienceAlert. “Maybe about a third of them glow.”
These included the platypus (which they examined twice), echidna, bandits, possums, and some bats. The Australian critters are joining a host of other bioluminescent organisms, including insects, frogs, fish and fungi.
Bioluminescence occurs when a living organism absorbs high-energy radiation such as ultraviolet rays and then emits light again at a lower frequency. Several proteins that can do this have been identified in the skin or other animal tissues – including bones and teeth, Australian wildlife forensic scientist Greta Frankham explained to ScienceAlert.
“There are chemical compounds in a lot of different parts of an animal’s body that appear to glow, so it is not surprising to find that there may be other chemical compounds in other things such as fur that shines,” Frankham said.
Scientists have isolated some of these particles and used them in scientific photography, such as jellyfish Green fluorescent protein.
The exact details of how and why bioluminescence occurs in these mammals remains to be determined. But whatever it achieves, it definitely produces some amazingly bright results under UV light, like my ears and Bilby’s tail (Macrotis leucora).
Kenny Travouillon (@travouillonK) November 3, 2020
Bilbis is an endangered and nocturnal desert species that loves to eat another animal that glows under UV rays – scorpions.
Well that’s cool. After all this fuss about a fluorescent platypus, I checked a couple of dead domestic monsters with an UV lamp. Forbidden oriental bands glow pink under UV rays but sugar gliders don’t. (My shoddy phone camera does not do justice …) pic.twitter.com/49wlwY5DWm
– TMT (t_mcachan) November 22, 2020
Wombats are endangered Eastern Bandicoot blocked (Pyramids JunneyThey are also nocturnal species. Many biofluorescent mammals identified so far are either nocturnal or crepuscular (they are most active at dawn and dusk), but bioluminescence requires a light source to be re-emitted from and in the presence of UV light at night.
Travoylon hypothesized: “They may be able to see much more than we can see.”
“Predators don’t seem to glow. I think the reason for this is that if predators can be seen, they will lose every opportunity to catch their prey.”
However, Frankham noted that many marsupials are nocturnal, so this may not necessarily be a driving factor in the evolution of this trait.
While there is now a lot of speculation about why some mammals glow under ultraviolet light, we have just realized just how common this phenomenon is. So there is a lot more to do before we can gather any answers.
In response to the hype about glowing animals on social media, Lund University evolutionary biologist Michael Bock warned:
Be careful about applying environmental or visual relevance to this. Many biological materials fluoresce, but the lighting conditions where they are visible to anything are incredibly unnatural. It’s extremely implausible that this is a visual cue. pic.twitter.com/rVeYlVVFqu
– Michael Bock (mikebok) November 26, 2020
Field studies are required to examine whether there are any advantages or disadvantages to this ability in the natural habitat of these animals – but given how vulnerable many of these Australian species are, it can potentially be worth checking to see if this trait affects their environment. .
“At this point, we’re all guessing why this is happening, so additional testing will be needed to understand what’s really going on,” said Travoylon. He plans to test more mammals with different lights and see if there really is a pattern with nocturnal mammals.