Animals 'glow in the dark' at Chester Zoo

Experts at Chester Zoo have shared a series of ‘incredible’ photos showing a selection of reptile, amphibian and invertebrate species glowing in the dark.

The animals may glow to attract a mate or to mark their territory
The animals may glow to attract a mate or to mark their territory

The never-before-seen photos, which were taken at the zoo at night, show animals displaying vivid shades of red, blue and green under ultraviolet light.

Biofluorescence, the technical term for this spectacle, occurs when higher energy wavelengths of light, like ultraviolet, is absorbed and sent out at a lower energy wavelength, making the area glow.

While this phenomenon is widespread among animals, little is currently known about why it occurs.

Dr Gerardo Garcia, curator of lower vertebrates and invertebrates at the zoo, has offered several theories on why it may happen. They might use it to attract a mate or to ward off potential predators.

“Communication is everything in the animal world, and how a species presents itself visually is a big part of how they speak to friends and foes.

"There are hundreds of frequencies of light and how animals see light, and therefore colours, is different to humans. We actually only see a small portion of the sunlight, so although we may see an animal glowing brilliantly, their own kind, and even other species, may see this completely differently as they read a wavelength that our eyes can’t perceive," Dr Garcia said.

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