(ORDO NEWS) — In May 2021, a Pacific football-ball fish washed ashore in California. Preserved in good condition, the rare fish had spines along its body, sharp teeth and a bioluminescent lure.
But, as scientists later found out, she also had biofluorescent tissues, which had never been found in this species of fish.
Biofluorescence and bioluminescence may sound similar, but they are two different things. Bioluminescence describes the light produced by living organisms, in this case bioluminescent bacteria, located on anglerfish bait.
On the other hand, biofluorescence is when organisms absorb light from their environment at one wavelength and then convert it to another, emitting “light”. This combination exists in jellyfish and siphonophores.
Biofluorescence is actually quite common, found in amphibians, reptiles, birds, tardigrades, flying squirrels, platypuses, and some fish.
Scientists hypothesize that the biofluorescence of the Pacific football-ball fish is fueled by its luminous lure, given the lack of any other light sources in the deep ocean.
This particular species lives at depths ranging from 305 to 1,220 meters. When swimming in the dark, anglerfish use the tips of their lures, known to scientists as “esca”, to attract small fish that are easily swallowed when they swim too close.
Examination of the female also revealed sharp and very thin teeth, some of which point backwards to prevent prey from escaping after capture.
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