That there are some animals, insects and food that glows in the dark? What! Yes. In science this shining in the dark is known as Bioluminescence or the making and releasing of light by a living organism. Different creatures use bioluminescence for various purposes. From attracting prey, communicating, defending themselves to courting mates, this use of light is always amazing when it is displayed! The light may be flashed in an on and off manner or it may remain steadily shining. This light also comes in different colours, blue, red, yellow and green are the usual. Another wondrous fact is that the lights come from different parts of their bodies as you will find in the following article.
From jelly fish to fireflies and mushrooms as well as a glowing ice cream cone!
A common sight is the fire fly glowing on dark nights. This fire fly (lighting bugs) can glow using different colors depending on whether it intends to attract a mate or catch some food. It may shine a light red, yellow or green, Its light, interestingly, comes from some chemicals in its abdomen that flashes light every few seconds.
Another intriguing example is the Anglar fish. Its dorsal fin that contains bioluminescent bacteria sticks out and attracts its prey. When the other creatures come to explore this strange looking light, the fish welcomes them into its teeth filled jaws and they are soon history! Other fish that catch their prey in a similar way are: the flash light fish, cookie cutter shark and the octopus Squid.
A vampire squid uses its light to confuse predators that want to attack it. Because its many arms are covered with spots that light up, it waves these around which makes the attacker frightened and unsure about which is which. If the predator insists, then it in for another glowing surprise. The octopus squid produces a glowing blue oozy liquid which creates a blue cloud that surrounds the confused creature. While it is still sorting itself out, guess what the octopus squid is doing? Running away of course!
Want some glowing mushroom? You will find these deep in a Brazilian rain forest. With its light, this mushrooms attracts insects to come and have look and alas! It grabs them with a sticky gel on its stem and there they stay!
Scientists have borrowed from these creatures and injected these lights producing chemicals or protein into other animals like sheep, monkeys and cats to make them glow in the dark!
Recently ice cream that glows has been produced and is being enjoyed but at a whooping $220 a cone! This ice cream has calcium protein that is activated when you look, consequently creating a glow effect. Who knows? Will a glowing human be next?
Lois Nakibuuka is an educator and counsellor