Many Fish Emit Red Light…

While Andrew wows you with such exciting facts as What Kind of Hay to Feed an Oryx from the AZA, I thought I’d cover some actual bizarre zoological news this week. A group of ichthyologists have recently made a startling discovery, one that was literally glowing right before their eyes.

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This fish subsists on a diet of the pious and the weak.

Conventional marine biological wisdom (which some say is an oxymoron, oh ZINGA DING DING, Kevin Z!!!) has always assumed that fish at certain depths have no capacity to see red wavelengths. The sun’s red rays do not penetrate past a certain point underwater and thus, the fish would never be subjected to red colors. It wouldn’t…

…have made sense for their eyes to develop a skill to see red light when it was of no evolutionary use to them, right?


Nico Michiels, a researcher at the University of Tubingen in Germany and his team have discovered 32 different species of reef fish who emit flourescent red light. Scientists studying these fish have never realized it, because the red color has been drowned out by the blue and green colors that do penetrate to the reef. Michels’ team had been diving with masks that blocked out the blue and green hues and stumbled upon an entire world of lit up red fish.

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Their research has found that the fishes’ skin contains guanine crystals which causes the flourescence. Michels is speculating that the glowing red colors may be used for advanced communication between and among fish species. His next task will be to prove that fish do indeed see light on the red spectrum, which appears more and more likely. It also appears likely that Craig McClain will be visiting this fish “Red Light District” the next time he goes out to sea…”It’s literally like every single one of my dreams has suddenly come true,” he confided in Andrew and myself.


  1. #1 kevin z
    September 16, 2008

    Oh was that supposed to be clever? You just wait Benny Bleiman. You just wait…

  2. #2 Miriam
    September 17, 2008

    Wow, all that mocking making Kevin see red.

  3. #3 Yuva Langer
    September 23, 2008

    Provisional article:
    (got that from pubmed)

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