Freak of Nature Thursdays: Glow-in-the-Dark Critters

While the wold of Avatar may seem supernatural, bio luminescence actually exists. Nature’s little disco is just downright awesome and we would like to share some of her best light shows with you today. Bio luminescence occurs in animals which convert chemical energy into light energy. Glowing beasties of all colors can be found in nature, but green is the most popular shade for land animals while aquatic creatures prefer blue.

Green living: Aequorea

Green living: Aequorea Victoria jellyfish. Picture courtesy

The Aequorea Victoria is one of the most common bio luminescent jellyfish and is found in the Pacific Ocean off the western coastline of North America. It has over 150 tentacles which it uses to catch its prey; fear not! It’s harmless to humans. The Aequorea is transparent except for its glowing bits.

Dragon fish picture courtesy

This handsome fellow is a black dragon fish. Dragon fish use bio luminescence to attract prey which they grab with those terrifying gnashers. Luckily it lives about 6,600 feet below sea level, so you’re unlikely to come across one when your paddling in the shallows on your summer vacation.

Scorpion picture courtesy

Actually, these scorpions are florescent rather than bio luminescent. This means that they glow under an ultra violet light rather than producing their own light. Still, we thought they were kinda cool in a creepy sort of way.

Glow in the dark kitty picture courtesy Mayo Clinic/Rex Features

Here kitty! The next time your cat goes outside at night, you don’t have to spend hours trying to find them. Of course this didn’t just happen; it was a byproduct of genetic engineering. The New Scientist explains: “Scientists inserted the jellyfish gene for GFP along with the gene for HIV resistance into a cat egg before it underwent IVF treatment. The offspring and their descendants glow under blue light, showing that both genes were successfully bred into the line of cats and that the properties of the HIV resistance gene can be tested.”

Glow in the dark funky fungi picture courtesy of Cornell University (

There are over 70 species of mushrooms with bio luminescent properties; all from the the Omphalotus, Armillaria, and Mycenoid families.  They occur in Australia and North America, although the Australian varieties glow much brighter.

Bio luminescent Phytoplankton picture courtesy of

This is probably a sight you are more familiar with. Bio luminescent phytoplankton are tiny drifting organisms (both plant and animal varieties) that use their glow-in-the-dark properties to confuse predators.

*Feature image courtesy of


Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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2 thoughts on “Freak of Nature Thursdays: Glow-in-the-Dark Critters

  1. Pingback: Genetic engineering | shorthappyandcurious

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