Bioluminescence, aka ability of living organisms to emit light, is one of the most spectacular natural phenomena out there. Animals who were lucky enough to have this awesome feature use it not only to show off, but also to perform various biological functions, like camouflaging, scaring off predators, or communicating.
Prepare to meet ten spectacular animals glowing, blinking, and shimmering with wondrous colors.
There are more than two thousand species of these little bugs, most of which can be found in tropical and subtropical zones. Different species of fireflies emit light of different colors: yellow, green, or red. Some beetles can glow continuously, others blink, and there are those that can adjust the brightness depending on external factors.
The South Sea, dotted with thousands of shimmering jellyfish in the night, can match even a starry summer sky. Jellyfish use this feature to satisfy our aesthetic senses and, more importantly, to lure and hunt various small organisms, such as protozoa and crustaceans.
3. Brazilian glowing shark
The abdomen of the Brazilian glowing shark emits a bright green fluorescent light, which makes this predator less visible when viewed from below, masking the shark from its prey. It is curious that the shark poses danger not only to smaller fish but also to submarines.
4. The flashlight snail
Also known as Hinea brasiliana, this snail lights up with a blue-green light when in danger. While other snails can only emit dim flashes from the head area, Hinea brasiliana sparkles like vampire during the day or, you know, a powerful flashlight.
5. Bioluminescent bacteria
Usually, these bacteria exist in symbiosis with other organisms: sea creatures provide them with a place to live and a source of food, and in return, use the bacteria’s ability to glow for their own purposes. For example, anglerfish harbor luminescent bacteria in their fin to lure their prey. And some cephalopods use luminous bacteria in their mantle to make themselves less noticeable due to the effect of backlighting.
These insects live in damp caves, caverns, and tropical forests, and they feed on magic fungus. One of the most amazing caves where you can see these shining bugs is located in New Zealand, on the North Island near the city of Waitomo. The cave halls look like a trippy planetarium thanks to the amazing glow of the critters that live there.
7. Sea sapphire
Also known as Sapphirina sp. It’s a small cephalopod crustacean creature. This little dude got its funky name for the ability to flicker, going from one translucent color to another, like a precious gemstone. Only males have this magic, and they use it to attract the chicks.
Usually, scorpions are not bioluminescent animals, but they emit a bright bluish-green light when exposed to UV rays of a specific wavelength, and sometimes even moonlight. Scientists are still arguing about the function of this strange glow. One theory states that it gives these critters the ability to control light levels to decide whether to hunt that night or just chill.
Squids can put on a real light show that you can watch off the coast of Japan. A piercing blue glow spreads along the seashore from March to May, when the mating season begins. They can light up in unison or create entire patterns of light right underneath the surface of the water.
10. Other glowing animals
Glowing fish were created to brighten-up our aquariums, but fluorescent cats were supposed to help scientists develop gene therapy for various diseases. While no revolutionary discoveries have been made in this area yet, more and more shining animals keep popping up after the introduction of the “luminous” DNA.