Meet the fluorescent tree frogs of South America

  • Meet the fluorescent tree frogs of South America

Meet the fluorescent tree frogs of South America

A team of researchers working in Argentina has found the first fluorescent frog known to science, a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.

It was noted that each of these, molecules came with a hydrocarbon chain and a ring and is different from the molecules, known for causing fluorescence. Many ocean creatures fluoresce, including corals, fish, sharks and one species of sea turtle (the hawksbill turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata).

Wild nature is full of unexpected discoveries and the enigmatical creatures, the abilities of which are still astounding the scientists from all over the world. On land, fluorescence was previously known in only parrots and some scorpions.

"For some things we were planning on doing, we had to illuminate the frog tissues with UV light", said study co-author Julián Faivovich, a researcher at the Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum in Buenos Aires, Argentina, according to New Scientist.

The fluorescent compounds absorb light at a wavelength at which frog photoreceptors have low sensitivity, and emit it in a wavelength at which they have high sensitivity.

When Faivovich and his colleagues looked for the source of the fluorescence, they found three molecules - hyloin-L1, hyloin-L2 and hyloin-G1 - in the animals' lymph tissue, skin and glandular secretions that were responsible.

"I'm really hoping that other colleagues will be very interested in this phenomenon", he told Nature, "and they will start carrying a UV flashlight to the field". Despite all these logic explanations, researchers revealed that this substance gives this species of the frog the color green, not red as researchers might have believed.

The fluorescence contributes 18-29% to the light available in twilight and night, making the frogs brighter and, perhaps, helping them to see more. This glow in the dark pigment has been seen to be naturally occurring in many plants and animals till date, except for frogs.

Particularly, the researchers say, amphibians with translucent skin like the frog they found.

The phenomenon of fluorescence is different from bioluminescence, in which animals either produce their own light through a series of chemical reactions or use light provided by its host bacteria.

The discovery could mean that other amphibious species have a fluorescent glow. Though it might just be a coincidence, it's possible that the fluorescence makes the frogs visible to each other at night, when they are most active.