Mammalia 2020

Already-Weird Platypus Gets Weirder As Scientists Find It Glows Under UV Light

If you didn't think platypuses were weird enough already... this is sure to confirm it. It has just been discovered that the odd mammal glows under UV light.

A surprise to scientists!

The bright blue hue was a shock to scientists, since the duck-billed mammals have a dark brown coat. According to Gizmodo, the platypus is now one of three mammals that are known to be biofluorescent (the other two are flying squirrels and opossums).

Other living things that are biofluorescent and bioluminescent include fungi, fish, phytoplankton, reptiles, amphibians, and at least one species of tardigrade.

They're blue (blue da ba dee da ba daa)

Mammalia 2020

The paper, "Biofluorescence in the platypus" found that both male and female platypuses glow a green or cyan hue under UV light.

The paper's author is quick to caution, however that the platypuses they scanned are only a small sample size and the same might not be true in the entire species in general.

Okay...but why?

Technically speaking, the platypuses' fur absorbs UV wavelengths between 200 and 400 nanometers and then gives off visible light between 500 and 600 nanometers, resulting in the glow.

According to LiveScience, since the mammals don't rely heavily on sight, the glow might offer a reduced visibility to their predators, much like some biofluorescent crustaceans.

"However, field-based research will be essential to document platypus biofluorescence and its ecological function in wild animals," the authors wrote in their study.

How *exactly* was this discovered?

Like most great discoveries, the glow-in-the-dark platypus was discovered almost entirely by accident.

A team of scientists was doing a night scan of lichens last year when they accidentally discovered that flying squirrels glow. The same team went on to try scanning on other mammals and found that platypuses also glow under UV light!

Probably not the weirdest thing about them tbh

Yep, the platypus is quite the odd animal. Despite being an egg-laying mammal, the duck-billed, flipper-footed, beaver-looking animal is also highly toxic.

The platypus can produce venom from its hind legs, which, while extremely painful to humans, is not lethal.

h/t: Mammalia