Our Earth is inhabited by thousands of strange, beautiful, and amazing creatures! Some seem to have super powers; like shape shifting sea cucumbers and dung beetles that can pull 1,000 times their body weight. As incredible as these abilities are, there are creatures that have the extremely cool ability to glow in the dark; like these 5 amazing creatures.
Genus Motyxia Millipedes
The only millipedes that have the ability to glow in the dark are from the genus Motyxia. There are 8 millipedes that fall under this genus and they live in the forests of California. They contain cyanide as a defense mechanism to keep from getting eaten. They are nocturnal and since they aren’t brightly colored to warn predators away like poisonous snakes and frogs are, they glow as a warning to stay away.
Angler fish are by far one of the ugliest fish in the ocean! They live at astonishingly deep depths that are devoid of all surface light – about one mile below sea level. They’re very large, too, getting up to 3 feet long and 200 pounds! Unlike most fish, the angler fish doesn’t hunt for prey. It lures the prey to them by waving a glowing “lantern” from the end of a fleshy growth that’s attached to their head. Their lanterns glow as the result of a symbiotic relationship with bacteria.
These small squid live in the waters off the coast of Japan. While many squid have the ability to glow, the firefly squid put on the best light show as they come to the surface at night. They glow for several reasons: for communication, to attract a mate, to attract prey and to warn off predators. They not only have the ability to light up their entire body, they can flash their lights, too!
Several different species of larvae have the ability to glow. Firefly larvae, is probably the best known. But, the Arachnocampa luminosa are quite possibly the most cool. Arachnocampa luminosa are the larvae of the fungus gnat that live in the caves and forests of New Zealand and Australia. They remain in their larval stage for 6 – 12 months and can grown to be about 1.2 inches long. The larvae builds a nest at the roof of the cave out of silk, then dangles up to 70 silk threads from the nest. The larvae then glow to attract prey that get tangled in the silk threads. Unfortunately, if a fungus gnat gets tangled in one of the threads, it, too, becomes dinner.
There are 70 different species of fungi that are bioluminescent. The glow they usually give off is green and is called “foxfire” or “fairy fire.” While scientists don’t know how the fungi glow, they suspect the reasons are to attract predators of the creatures that eat them, to attract insects that will, in turn, spread the fungi spores or to frighten would-be predators. Whatever the reason, their ability to bioluminesce sure makes them “fun guys.” I know. Bad joke.