THE GLOWING PLATYPUS
One of Australia’s most fascinating animals - the platypus - lays eggs, sports venomous spikes, has a duck-like bill and now scientists have discovered a new interesting characteristic to add to the mix: biofluorescent fur!
In a recent study published in the journal Mammalia, scientists from US-based The Field Museum discovered that platypus skins give off a blue-green glow when illuminated by ultraviolet (UV) light, a spectrum of light not visible to the human eye.
Other animals such as flying squirrels and marsupial New World opossums have also been observed to have fluorescent fur, but the only thing these animals seem to share in common is their nocturnal lifestyles. This is also when biofluorescence is at its strongest, which suggests the trait might be common among mammals most active at night, dawn, or dusk.
The reason for this peculiar trait is still a mystery, but theories could include camouflage or communication between individuals of the same species. For animals like the platypus, which are most active at dusk and dawn, the ability to distinguish colours could be vital for searching for food or avoiding predators.
We were amazed to learn about these new findings of our already unusual Australian native. Nature never seems to stop surprising us.
We’ll definitely be keeping our eyes out for any shining platypuses in the water!
For further information on this research click here.
Image source: Mammalia