Australia's Glow-in-the-Dark Marsupials Surprise Scientists

Platypus, bilbies, they all glow in the dark under bright UV lights.
Fabienne Lang
Glow in the dark animalsKenny Travouillon/Twitter

Australia's animal and insect kingdom is not for the faint-hearted. Well-known for its deadly power to clear the world's largest island of humans if it wanted, the country's fauna is mostly dangerous.

Not all of it though. Scientists recently discovered that some of Australia's furry friends shine bright under U.V. lighting, in fact, they glow in the dark. 

Last month, U.S. scientists accidentally discovered that the Australian platypus glows in the dark, publishing their findings in the journal Mammalia, Vice reported.

Now, Australian scientists from the Western Australia Museum have carried out more tests, checking out other mammals' and marsupials' glowing abilities, and discovering that they shine too, reports the ABC.


"We borrowed it and turned off the lights in the collection and looked around for what was glowing and not glowing," Kenny Travouillon, curator of Mammalogy at the Western Australian Museum, told the ABC.

Travouillon read the published study in Mammalia and his interest was piqued. He quickly borrowed an ultraviolet (U.V.) light and checked himself. 

"The first one we checked was the platypus obviously. We shone the light and they were also glowing, it confirmed the research."

Taking it a step further, the team also checked other specimens, such as marsupial moles, bilbies, and wombats — all of which glowed under U.V. light, CNET reported.

It's still unsure as to why they glow in such a way, some experts hypothesize that it could be for communication reasons at night. "The benefit is probably so they can see their species from a distance and they can approach them because they know that it is safe to go towards that animal," explained Travouillon to the ABC.

However, more research has to be carried before a conclusion can be reached. 

Animals and insects have some strange traits or ways of acting, and it's exciting to know that there's still so much left to discover about these fantastic creatures.

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