Just to add to the list of platypus superpowers, scientists have discovered that the monotreme’s fur glows green and blue under ultraviolet light. Is there anything these guys can’t do?
Have you ever seen a platypus in the wild? What about under ultraviolet light?
Inspired by pure curiosity, a group of American scientists have recently discovered that, like a very small handful of other mammals, platypus fur is biofluorescent, meaning it glows hues of electric green and blue when illuminated by a UV light.
Biofluorescence works a little like this – a substance, in this case platypus fur, has proteins built into the tissue that allow it to absorb sunlight at a short wavelength and remit it at a longer wavelength, changing the light’s colour. Neato!
But wait, other animals glow under UV light too? Yeah! Scorpions, lichens, puffin beaks apparently. Even North American flying squirrels glow bright pink! It’s like a little light beam glowing from their heart, awww.
For some animals there’s a purpose behind the pigment – it helps attract food or deter predators. But when it comes to the platypus, scientists are stumped. It could just be all for show.
Although of course, humans often miss the show, as UV light lies beyond the realms of our visible spectrum. Which makes it even cooler that someone actually discovered it. Good onya science.
Photos thanks to The New York Times