World's First Glow In The Dark Frog Discovered In Argentina

Posted: Mar 15 2017, 1:27am CDT | by , Updated: Mar 15 2017, 2:21am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 

First Glow in the Dark Frog Discovered in Argentina
Fluorescence in the tree frog. Credit: PNAS
 

The polka-dot tree frog represents the first and only known fluorescent amphibian in the world

Researchers have discovered a naturally fluorescent polka-dot tree frog in Amazon basin near Argentina. At first sight, the frog looks just another plain colored creature but it actually glows neon green when exposed to ultraviolent light. This makes it the world’s first amphibian with a remarkable ability to glow in dark.

Fluorescence or the ability to emit different colors after absorbing light, has been observed in a variety of ocean creatures such as fish, sharks, corals and sea turtles and even in few land animals such as scorpions and parrots, but it is the first time scientists have seen this trait in an amphibian.

Researchers stumbled upon the weird amphibian by accident while studying the skin pigments of polka-dot tree frogs collected near Santa Fe, Argentina. The frog’s glowing appearance was unexpected and it took everyone by surprise.

“For some things we were planning on doing, we had to illuminate the frog tissues with UV light. Then we realized the whole frog was fluorescing.” Julián Faivovich, a herpetologist from University of Buenos Aires in Argentina and one of the researchers involved in the study told New Scientist

When researches pointed a black light at its skin pigments, they found that frog changed its color dramatically, from a dull yellow color with red spots to a neon green frog with dark spots.

Upon through investigation, researchers found that three molecules, hyloin-L1, hyloin-L2 and hyloin-G1 in the animals’ lymph tissue and skin glands are likely responsible for this green glow. Each molecule has a ring and a hydrocarbon chain, which is unlike any previously reported molecule that causes fluorescence in creatures. Researchers have also found that these molecules enhance the brightness of the frog by 19 percent on a night with a full moon and 30 percent during twilight.

The polka-dot tree frog is tiny frog, about 1 inch long and is marked by white, yellow or reddish spots.

Finding an amphibian that exhibits fluorescence raises many new questions including why the frog is fluorescent.

The phenomenon of fluorescence is different from bioluminescence, in which animals either produce their own light through a series of chemical reactions or use light provided by its host bacteria. But in fluorescence, a creature absorbs light, transforms it and re-emits it, sometimes in different colors. Typically, fluorescence is used for camouflage, mating or attracting prey.

In the future, researchers are planning to study photoreceptors in the frog eyes to find out whether they use their fluorescence to better see each other at night. Researchers are also planning to take a closer look at other tree frogs in the area to see if they, too, may have the same feature.

 

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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