Tiny structures in the skin cells of fish can help them disappear and protect them from predators.
Some fish species can literally make themselves invisible. That’s a trick they use to protect themselves from the predators in the open waters of the ocean.
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Now scientists have found how fish can perform this ‘disappearing act’ with great perfection. Certain fish has microscopic structures or platelets in their skin cells which can reflect polarized light in such a manner that a predator cannot see it.
Polarized light is made up of light waves which are restricted to one direction, not scattered and fishes can use them to their advantage.
“Fish have evolved the means to detect polarized light. Given that, we suggested they’ve probably evolved the means to hide in polarized light,” said Molly Cummings, professor of interactive biology in the College of Natural Sciences.
“If we can identify that process, then we can improve upon our own camouflage technology for that environment.”
Over the years, U.S. Navy has looked for the technique which can able them to hide in open water or from the eye of an adversary satellite. These findings will certainly help them to create more effective vehicles and avoid detection in open sea.
To see how this actually works, researchers conducted a study in actual ocean. They dropped a video polarimeter to record the polarized light in real time. Researchers also used an automated rotating platform to hold the fish in the place to see how fish such as lookdown and the bigeye scad camouflage themselves. They adjusted the polarimeter in different angles. Study was done on five species of fish.
Researchers found that lookdown fish showed the better disguising ability than rest of the fishes and they can scatter polarized light differently depending on the angle.
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“I think it’s a great example of how human applications can take advantage of evolutionary solutions and the value of evolutionary biology,” said Cummings. “It’s important for people to recognize that we take advantage of evolutionary processes and solutions all time and that our military does.”