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Are there any mammals that glow in the dark?
Question Date: 2020-12-18
Answer 1:

Javier, the answer is yes! To quickly talk about the glow, this glow is called fluorescence.

Fluorescence occurs when higher energy light (such as UV or blue) is absorbed and subsequently re-emitted at lower energy (such as blue, green, or red). We comparatively recently found that mammals too can glow. Last year, a scientist in Wisconsin found a flying squirrel that has a pink fluorescence (awesome!). Also, this year, a scientist in Australia found that platypus can glow purple-green (amazing!). Up until that point, only mammals known to have fluorescent fur were some species of opossum.

I encourage you to search for these fascinating photos on Google Image. One interesting thing to note is that many of these mammals are nocturnal or crepuscular (active during twilight), which suggests that the glow might be linked to nightlife. With these very recent developments, I think there might be a lot more mammals out there that glow waiting to be discovered!

Answer 2:

An animal is bioluminescent if it can produce light through chemical reactions. Unfortunately, there is no known bioluminescent mammal.

However, there are a few fluorescent mammals. Fluorescence is the emission of light when an object is radiated by a shorter wave length of light. The most common form of fluorescence is the paint that glow when ultraviolet light is shined upon. Platypus' fur is fluorescent.

Besides those naturally fluorescent animals, biologists have also made many fluorescent mammals using transgenics. They introduced the gene for some fluorescence protein into the animals. Not only do those animals look cool, when combined with other techniques, biologists can figure where a particular gene is expressed just by looking at where the animal glow under UV!

Answer 3:

Geneticists have extracted genes from non-mammals that produce light and inserted those genes into mice, which causes the genetically-modified mice to glow in the dark. As a scientist, I question the ethics of these experiments.

Answer 4:

This research got glowing reviews. "Scientists have discovered that wombats, platypi and other Australian mammals glow in the dark under ultraviolet light, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. ... Echidna, bandicoots, bilbies, possums and some bats all lit up under the black light, ScienceAlert reported."Nov 27, 2020"

From this site "Oct 29, 2020 — Shining a (UV) light on the glow-in-the-dark platypus ... The fur of the platypus -- an Australian species threatened with extinction -- glows ... They studied three museum platypus specimens: a female and a male from the Field .."

Here's a really cool YouTube video about genetically engineered glowing animals and how they're useful for human disease research.

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