Credit By: Earth.com
Fluorescence is a phenomenon seen in birds, reptiles, insects, and fish when exposed to UV light. In a ground-breaking study led by the Western Australian Museum and Curtin University, researchers found that fluorescence is extremely common among mammals. One hundred twenty-five mammalian species, including well-known ones like domestic cats, polar bears, bats, mountain zebras, wombats, and even the fabled Tasmanian devil, were the subject of the study.
Every mammalian specimen examined, whether it was stored or frozen, fluoresced to some extent when exposed to UV light. Numerous mammals are included in this, such as domestic cats, polar bears, bats, mountain zebras, wombats, dwarf spinner dolphins, leopards, and Tasmanian devils.
Sources of Fluorescence:
Mammals’ bones, teeth, claws, fur, feathers, and skin were all found to contain fluorescent chemicals. There was a wide variety of neon colors on exhibit, ranging from red and yellow to green, pink, and blue.
Fluorescence is a phenomenon that results in brilliant colors when specific molecules, such as proteins or carotenoids found on a mammal’s surface, absorb light and re-emit it at longer and lower-energy wavelengths. An iconic animal, the platypus, was one of those found to fluoresce under UV light.
Variations in Fur Colour:
Mammals with lighter fur, which made up about 86% of the species investigated, showed more pronounced fluorescence. Due to the masking effect of melanin, animals with dark fur, such as the Tasmanian devil, had muted luminous features.
Although fluorescence is common in animals, its biological importance is still up for debate. Some researchers hypothesize that it could be a byproduct of surface chemistry. According to the study, nocturnal species and those with terrestrial, arboreal, and fossorial lifestyles exhibit fluorescence most frequently and intensely.
The study acknowledges that non-preserved animals, preferably alive or recently deceased specimens, should be the focus of future research. The researchers noted that lemurs, a mammalian group missing from their data, may have glowing individuals, in part because white fur is so common among them.
The discovery of ubiquitous fluorescence in mammals contradicts earlier theories and provides fresh perspectives on the biological and ecological relevance of this phenomenon. The glow seen in mammals adds an exciting dimension to our understanding of their biology and behavior, and the findings emphasize the need for more research.
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