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  • 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 Seaas 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

we've all chased lightning bugs as kids, but what's going on behind those glowing

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B1 US glowing bioluminescence glow fish lightning sea

What Makes Some Animals Glow?

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    joey joey posted on 2021/04/13
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