What makes underwater animals glow?

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Rocky Singh

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What makes underwater animals glow?
« on: 23/08/2008 21:09:51 »
Rocky Singh  asked the Naked Scientists:


I am a huge fan, I listen to your podcasts all the time. I love the show and really enjoy listening to your programme.

My question is, what is it in certain underwater creatures that makes them "glow" and why aren't there any land animals that do the same? Thank you.

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Rocky Singh
Poland, Ohio

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Offline RD

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What makes underwater animals glow?
« Reply #1 on: 23/08/2008 23:30:22 »
The phrase "land animals" includes insects, there are bioluminescent insects.

There are no luminous "flowering" plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians or mammals.

If a mammal or a bird had luminous fur or feathers the glow would be on for a long period of time: it would have to shed the fur/feathers to get rid of it. A glow which is continuously on for weeks/months would be a disadvantage whether the creature was predator or prey.
I think the glow has to be rapidly changeable to be a useful method of communication. 

There are man-made transgenic fluorescent pigs.  (although fluorescence is not the same as luminescence).
« Last Edit: 24/08/2008 00:41:20 by RD »