Is that a Fireworm in Your Pants or Are Your Genitals on Fire?

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by Katie the Lowly Intern

As a kid, I was always interested in bioluminescence:

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So I can't really pass up the chance to post about beings that can produce their own light. Marine biologists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have been playing around with bioluminescent fireworms.

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Odontosyllis phosphorea

Dimitri Deheyn and Michael Latz are trying to figure out how and why fireworms generate light producing proteins. Before releasing a mess of gametes, hot lady fireworms create a big cloud of glowing mucus which appears to attract male fireworms. Sexy. Deheyn and Latz also found that juvenile fireworms also use flashes of light to distract and disorient predators. Who hasn't had to flash to escape a hairy situation. Deheyn and Latz hope to use the hundreds of fireworms they have in their lab to "understand how it is possible to keep light so stable for such a long time," which could have a huge impact in the biomedical and bioengineering fields---or to genetically alter fireworm DNA, making the worms powerful firebreathing animals and charging thousands to witness a steel-cage death match against the meat ant.

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Below is a just a little picture I snapped while snorkling in California this March.

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... u REALLY need to get a decent camera. x

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