It’s a South American cockroach, Lucihormetica luckae, that Discover Magazine reports was recently studied by scientists for its ability to glow in an effort to explain how bioluminescence began on land (it is more common in marine mammals).
The ability to produce light via a chemical reaction has evolved over and over again in fireflies, other insects, bacteria, jellyfish, bony fish, fungi, and single-celled dinoflagellates shown above. Dinoflagellates flash when disturbed, and in high concentrations they produce the toxic red tides.
Bloody Bay wall in the Cayman Islands Credit: Jim Hellemn, portraitofacoralreef.com
Wall of Color
Pictured is the Cayman Islands’ Bloody Bay Wall, a species-rich, 1,000-foot-tall wall of coral that is home to many bioluminescent and biofluorescent animals. To take this amazing photograph, photographers in scuba gear flooded the reef in violet light and captured the corals’ conversion of the light into red and green.
This is a click beetle (Family Elateridae) that has bioluminescence in the two yellow patches in the pronotum. It is a constant green color and it seems prone to illuminate when it is alert. This was found near the Cerro de San Gil Reserve in Izabal, Guatemala.
Writing in the online journal PLoS ONE, the researchers describe how they imaged volunteers’ upper bodies using ultra-sensitive cameras over a period of several days. Their results show that the amount of light emitted follows a 24-hour cycle, at its highest in late afternoon and lowest late at night, and that the brightest light is emitted from the cheeks, forehead and neck.
Strangely, the areas that produced the brightest light did not correspond with the brightest areas on thermal images of the volunteers’ bodies.