Secret glow: Scientists have discovered the amazing fluorescence of South American frogs

In a groundbreaking study, scientists have unveiled a surprising discovery: South American frogs have an amazing ability to glow in the dark. The study was published in the journal bioRxiv

The phenomenon, known as biofluorescence, was first announced by researchers in 2017. However, a new study has revealed that the number of frog species that possess this fluorescence is much higher than previously thought. The study, which examined 151 species of South American frogs, found that all individuals exhibit fluorescence to some degree.

The study, led by biologist Courtney Whitcher of Florida State University, sheds light on the significance of this glow feature. The findings suggest that biofluorescence is not just a random phenomenon, but rather a vital aspect of the frogs’ communication and survival strategy. Whitcher explains, “Our results suggest that frog biofluorescence likely functions as part of anuran communication, as evidenced by their tuning to ecology and sensory systems.”

For the study, the scientists captured and studied 528 frogs across South America. The frogs were exposed to different wavelengths of light – from ultraviolet to visible spectrum – and recorded the resulting fluorescence. Surprisingly, the glow was observed in every frog, although some were more pronounced than others. The researchers found that the strongest fluorescence was produced by blue light, similar to natural earthly twilight. In addition, the fluorescence occurred mainly in two different peaks of visible light, green and orange.

This unique glowing ability of frogs is particularly important because it corresponds to their natural behavior. Many species of frogs are midnighters, meaning they are most active during twilight. Their eyes are specially adapted to function optimally in low-light conditions, and they are particularly sensitive to green light. The researchers found that the most brightly glowing parts of the body that are involved in signaling to other frogs, such as the throat and back.

This discovery has far-reaching implications. Not only does it shed light on the fascinating world of biofluorescence, but it also opens new avenues for understanding frog communication and behavior. In addition, this study has tripled the number of species tested for biofluorescence, expanding our knowledge of this unique feature of the animal kingdom.

Scientists and experts have expressed their excitement and admiration for this discovery. Dr. David Gruber, marine biologist and National Geographic researcher, notes: “This research is groundbreaking. It reveals the hidden world of fluorescence in the animal kingdom and emphasizes the importance of further study of this phenomenon.”

The luminescence of South American frogs adds to the growing list of luminous creatures in nature. Fluorescence has been observed in a variety of species including catsharks, chameleons, salamanders and even Australian monotremes and marsupials. However, frog biofluorescence appears to be different from that of other luminous animals.

While scientists continue to unravel the mysteries of biofluorescence, it is clear that this discovery opens up new possibilities. The luminous frogs of South America have captured our imagination and deepened our understanding of the natural world.

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