MAR 18, 2017 10:33 AM PDT

The First Fluorescent Frog Ever Discovered?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Researchers from the Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum in Buenos Aires were in for quite a surprise when they decided to start shining ultraviolet lights on various tree frogs located in Argentina. In particular, the South American polka-dot tree frog responded to the ultraviolet light with a bit of green fluorescent feedback, something they weren’t expecting to see.

In the image below, you can see the appearance of the frog before (left) and after (right) when the ultraviolet light reacted with the frog’s skin:

Image Credit: Julián Faivovich & Carlos Taboada/Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales

Discussed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the researchers note that this is the first ever case of fluorescence discovered in a tree frog. The feature is a rarity in land creatures, but is more common in water-based creatures like fish and turtles.

Fluorescence is different than bioluminescence because in order for fluorescence to work, ultraviolet light needs to be shining on the fluorescent surface for it to react to the light and emit other light wavelengths. Bioluminescence can occur even when there is no light shining on the creature, so it’s quite different in how it works.

Interestingly, the reason the frog’s fluorescence probably went unnoticed for so long is because they’re very dull in color in natural light. The only way anyone would have ever noticed this is if they went out their way to shine ultraviolet lights on nature, only to find something glowing back.

The researchers note that special compounds in the creatures’ skin are responsible for the fluorescence, but the curiosity to shine an ultraviolet light on them came from the fact that their skin pigment had traces of biliverdin, which is known to emit a red-colored fluorescence. With that in mind, it was surprising to find that the frogs emitted a green color instead.

Why the creatures are fluorescent is another mystery that scientists have yet to solve. Being that the feature is so rare for land animals, it doesn’t make much sense. Moreover, it’s unknown if the frogs can even see each other’s fluorescence or if it’s just a freak act of nature.

Nevertheless, that’s still way cool. Perhaps you might find some interesting things in your own back yard by shining black lights on them yourself!

Source: Nature via NPR

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUN 02, 2020
Plants & Animals
Why Do So Many Animals Have Different Styles of Headgear?
JUN 02, 2020
Why Do So Many Animals Have Different Styles of Headgear?
A substantial number of animals have evolved to have ornate and functional headgear that can help them defend themselves ...
JUN 08, 2020
Plants & Animals
Goldfish Can Communicate via Tiny Current Ripples
JUN 08, 2020
Goldfish Can Communicate via Tiny Current Ripples
Goldfish are an invasive fish species, but don’t let that distract from the well-known fact that they make for won ...
JUN 15, 2020
Plants & Animals
Tasty Pigeon Just Barely Outflies a Hungry Falcon
JUN 15, 2020
Tasty Pigeon Just Barely Outflies a Hungry Falcon
It’s dog eat dog out there, especially in the animal kingdom. But this well-received idiom referring to the ruthle ...
JUN 16, 2020
Earth & The Environment
How do Microplastics Reach the Deep Seafloor?
JUN 16, 2020
How do Microplastics Reach the Deep Seafloor?
Plastics and microplastics are certainly not recent developments in ocean pollution. However, scientists continue to inv ...
JUN 29, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Should You Give Cannabis to Your Cat?
JUN 29, 2020
Should You Give Cannabis to Your Cat?
There is very limited research on the effects of cannabinoids on pets. Although some studies have emerged touting their ...
JUL 08, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
CBD Helps Dogs With Osteoarthritis Stay More Active
JUL 08, 2020
CBD Helps Dogs With Osteoarthritis Stay More Active
It’s estimated that up to a fifth of dogs above the age of one are afflicted with osteoarthritis, which causes inf ...
Loading Comments...