What Makes Some Animals Glow?


we’ve all chased lightning bugs as kids,
but what’s going on behind those glowing behinds? Hey Everyone Julia here for DNews I grew up in the midwest and spent my childhood
summers chasing around lightening bugs. There’s something about them that just captures the
imagination. But such powers of light don’t belong to just those bugs. Bioluminescence
is found in a lot of different animals! imagine waves of a bright lights trailing behind your
ships. Such a phenomenon was part of sailors stories for centuries. It’s even described
in Jules Verne “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” as a “milky sea”. But it’s not
just a story or a mystery, really it’s all just chemistry. Most of the time it’s just two chemicals
in particular: luciferin and luciferase. Luciferase, is an enzyme which binds oxygen and luciferin
together. This reaction creates a lot of energy, and rather than being released as heat, it
gives off light. The color depends on the way the luciferin molecules are arranged.
While some organisms produce luciferin, others have to eat the things that produce the chemical.
Or in the case of the angler fish, they house the bacteria that makes the chemical. When you think of glowing creatures you might
think of only lightning bugs or deep sea creatures. But bioluminescence is surprisingly common.
It happens anytime time of day or depth of the ocean. So why do they do it? Well it’s not for
generating heat. Bioluminescence is a “cold light.” Cold light means less than 20% of
the light generates thermal radiation, or heat. Some creatures like the anglerfish use this
trick as bait to lure in prey, other species use it as a warning, the glow worm signals
“I’m poisonous!”, or some species of fish release a flash of bioluminescent goo
to confuse their attackers. The hatchet fish uses it for camouflage. Their undersides are
lined with photophores, organs filled with those glowing chemicals. This tricks any predators
that might attack from below. Normally a fish’s silhouette against the sky gives it away,
but these photophores make the hatchet fish blend in. Pretty cool right? And a lot of other animals use bioluminescence
for communication, Some scientists even think it could be the most common form of communication
on the planet! You might be familiar with this kind of light display from lightning
bugs signaling to find a mate. Some organisms shine when startled or scared.
The Milky Seas in 20,000 leagues was really a bloom of algae, like the dinoflagellate,
Noctiluca Scintillans. When these tiny guys get disturbed by a boat or cresting wave,
it triggers the chemical reaction. And they light up the sea. Such dinoflagellates are
currently putting on quite a show off the coast of Tasmania. But this is different from fluorescence. Fluorescence
is when an animal has proteins that reflect light. Kind of like how certain things glow
under a blacklight, some animals only glow under certain wavelengths. Like the elegant
jelly which reflects blue light. Scientists genetically modified some animals
like rabbits and cats with these fluorescent proteins from jellyfish. Yes glowing cats
exist. In fact the development of this technique won a Nobel Prize in 2008. By creating glowing
cats or sheep, researchers can track the formation of certain biological processes like nerves
growing or diseases spreading. Other researchers in San Francisco are creating
glowing plants and trees that could light up the night without using power. To find
out how check out this video right here! What’s your favorite light up animal? I’m
kind of obsessed with hankler.. I mean angler fish.. let us know down the comments below…

100 thoughts on “What Makes Some Animals Glow?

  1. Stop. "we all" I have, but moving to the west I know people who havent even seen lighting bugs. I hate broad terms.

  2. Not just animals. There are around 70 different species of bioluminescent fungi. Though the biochemistry is different then what is found in animals and is far less understood. Even when comparing one type to another there seems to be differing mechanisms at work.

  3. I won't lie I had never once heard lightning bug. I had to look it up, turns out… it's a firefly, also turns out a non-zero amount of people actually use the term lightning bug, which really threw me off…

  4. I really like that glowing plant idea.  More trees/shrubs in cities and less energy wasted on powering streetlights.  They come with the added benefit of not going out when the power does.

  5. Combine phosphorus with jam and place it in a nickel. Place it in a container with an insect and within a week they will begin to glow

  6. do you know that bats can hear very high frequent of sounds that cant be heard by other creatures? imagine that there are creatures that can produce and see infrared light, so, those creatures will rule in darkness. imagine that there are creatures that can produce and see ultraviolet, they will be able to see through sort of thin objects such as skin, fabric, and other. it means that they can see naked girls

  7. This is very interesting, but can a human at some point also give off light. Have you ever seen a person's face light up as bright as the moon? Something to think about.

  8. my sister is 4 and she is not scared if lighting bugs and she gets so excited and I LOVE The lighting bugs ❤?

  9. da,mit why did it hacve to be a chick.. now i have to wonder to focus on her looks..voice or what shes actually saying..the meaning

  10. HEY BUGS AND INSECTS ARE NOT ANIMALS DOGS SHEEP CAT FAMILY DOG FAMILY COW FAMILY HORSE FAMILY AND HOG FAMILY AND BIRD FAMILY AND LIZARD FAMILY ARE ANIMALS SO MAYBE THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE KNOWING and also BUGS AND INSECTS ARE NOT ANIMALS OK

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