Researchers have discovered Tasmanian devils glow under ultraviolet light at a US zoo. Sharing the fascinating news with the world on Saturday, researchers at Toledo Zoo, located in Toledo, Ohio, posted the findings on their social media handles claiming that they were the first in the world to document the case of biofluorescence in Tasmanian devils.
Same phenomenon has earlier been discovered in platypuses, bilbies and wombats.
On December 6, Toledo Zoo’s official Twitter handle shared the news with the world, which has caught netizens attention. “The Toledo Zoo is excited to report the first documented case of biofluorescence in Tasmanian devils! Biofluorescence refers to the phenomenon by which a living organism absorbs light and reemits it as a different color,” reads the caption along with an image which is fascinating to look at.
The Toledo Zoo is excited to report the first documented case of biofluorescence in Tasmanian devils! Biofluorescence refers to the phenomenon by which a living organism absorbs light and reemits it as a different color. #ToledoZoo #Biofluorescence #TasmanianDevils pic.twitter.com/IxhXvHzqMl— Toledo Zoo (@ToledoZoo) December 5, 2020
According to the text explained on Toledo Zoo’s official Instagram handle, biofluorescence is a phenomenon by which a living organism absorbs light and reemits it as a different colour. As mentioned, in the Tasmanian devil, the skin around the living organisms’ snout, eyes, and inner ear absorbs ultraviolet light (a type of light that is naturally abundant, yet invisible to humans) and reemits it as blue, visible light. However, it is still unclear whether this instance of biofluorescence serves any ecological purpose or is simply happenstance.
The photo taken by Jacob Schoen, a technician with Toledo Zoo Conservation, who said that he believes this is the very first case of biofluorescence occurrence in a Tasmanian devil to be documented, reports ABC.
"When platypuses were recently found to be biofluorescence, it got us pretty excited to try and discover this in other animals, especially in Australian mammals," Mr Schoen added.
The text also explained that biofluorescence was recently discovered to occur in other mammals in Australia like platypus and wombats. While the reasons for the phenomenon of biofluorescence in mammals was yet to be determined, the text says it is interesting to speculate.
“Evidence suggests that some bird species use UV fluorescence to attract mates (Pearn et al. 2001). Many fishes even use biofluorescence to camouflage themselves (Sparks et al. 2014)” the caption goes on to statem” explained the text.
Toledo Zoo’s team were inspired by the recent findings about platypuses showing biofluorescence under UV light, and therefore, started to conduct their own tests. After they were successful in discovering the glow-in-the dark phenomenon is platypuses, they moved their tests to other mammals like Tasmanian devil.