Duck platypus, laying eggs platypus just a little weird: It turns out their feathers glow green and blue below ultraviolet ray (UV) light.
Under visible light, platypus’ extremely dense fur – which insulates and protects them in cold water – is gray-brown, so holographic light is exposed under the upper UV rays. A specimen in a stuffed museum is a big surprise.
Biofluorescence – which absorbs and re-emits light of another color – is common in fish, amphibians, birds and reptiles. However, this trait is much rarer in mammals, and it is the first evidence of bioluminescence in egg-laying mammals, also known as monotremes, the scientists said in a new research.
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Prior to this discovery, bioluminescence was only known in two mammal species: flying squirrels, which are placental mammals, and opossums, which are marsupial, according to research published directly. online on October 15 in the journal Mammalia.
Study co-author Allison Kohler, a doctoral candidate at the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Texas A&M University at College Station, Texas, previously tested flying specimens in museums. squirrel and discovered that all three species of North America – the northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) Southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) and the flying squirrel of Humboldt (Glaucomys oregonensis) – glowing pink in UV light. Kohler and her colleagues reported their results on January 23, 2019, in Mammalogy Magazine.
While examining the flying squirrel museum specimens for signs of bioluminescence, they decided to look at other mammals in the same collection, according to a statement.
Platypuses are semi-zoologicals that live in eastern Australia, and they are such a special combination of organs that they appear to have been assembled from unrelated animals; so perhaps fittingly, their scientific names, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, which means muzzle flat legs, according to London’s Museum of Natural History (NHM).
These quirky mammals have hairy bodies; the tail is flat and hairless like a beaver; webbed feet (males also have spurs in their hind legs that contain venom); and bill as wide as a duck. When 19th-century Europeans first saw the preserved skin of these bizarre-looking creatures, many experts thought the animal was a taxonomic hoax, with the speculum being sewn into the body of a mole, according to the NHM.
Platypus fluorescent lighting was discovered from two specimens from Tasmania, Australia, in the Field Museum collection in Chicago. Both specimens – a male and a female – displayed a bright light, according to the study. The scientists then examined the third specimen at the University of Nebraska State Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska; That male platypus was collected in New South Wales, Australia. It also glows green in UV light.
The researchers report that the bluish-green color shows a similar pattern and intensity in male and female platypus, suggesting it is not a sexual trait associated with reproduction, the researchers reported. research report.
Platypus move in their water, twilight through mechanical perception, detect mechanical stimuli like touch and sound, and electrical stimulation, and perceive natural electrical signals. Because they are not highly dependent on vision, it is possible that their biofluorescent light is not used to communicate with each other but to reduce their visibility against predators, as is the case in some bioluminescent crustaceans.
However, field research will be necessary to record platypus bioluminescence and its ecological function in wildlife, the study authors write.
Exploring the platypus’s secret glow also sheds light on this trait in mammals, revealing that it’s not just some highly specialized species that glow in the dark.
“Instead, it emerged in the phylogenetic system,” the scientists said.
These bioluminescent mammals occupy diverse ecosystems spanning three continents. And now, with the addition of platypus, they represent all major mammal lineages; Placenta, marsupial and marsupial. According to the study, it can be explained that mammalian bioluminescence, although rare but may be an early ancestor feature in the family tree of the group.
Originally published on Live Science.