Curious Creatures: Glowing in the Dark

Curious Creatures Glowing in the Dark
Zoë Armstrong and Anja Sušanj
Flying Eye Books

Author Zoë Armstrong and illustrator Anja Sušanj take us close up to some of the world’s most incredible animals – some of those that are bioluminescent and others that are biofluorescent.

The former use chemical reactions to create sparkles, flashes and flickers of light within their bodies by mixing together two chemicals luciferin and luciferase plus oxygen. This is then shown in a variety of ways. Some creatures including two earthworm species one from New Zealand, the other from the American South ooze a gooey gunk. The New Zealand species dribbles orange goo, the American, blue.

In contrast there are sea creatures such as Flashlight fish that use the bioluminescence of glow-in-the-dark bacteria they carry around and can switch on and off in the blink of an eye. Amazing! Amazing too is the fact that beneath the sea around the Florida coast over three-quarters of the marine creatures glow in the dark, using light to communicate.

It’s not only marine animals that use light to signal to one another. I once spent hours over many evenings in the hills near Dharamshala, fascinated by the myriads of fireflies flickering in the evening dark after a rainy day. In this book, the author focuses on those found at the forest edge in Japan; apparently there are over 2000 species of firefly around the world.

Biofluoresent creatures such as scorpions that are nocturnal, need to absorb invisible ultraviolet light from the Sun (or Moon) in order to glow.

However, so we read, this whole phenomenon is ‘something of a mystery’ and increasing numbers of familiar creatures, so scientists are discovering, are able to glow in the dark.

Having presented all these amazing animals, it’s exciting to read that scientists are making use of both bioluminescence and biofluorescence to research new ways to track diseases moving around the body, as well as looking at ways to save energy and to test for pollution. WOW!

Beautiful illustrations and a highly readable text make this a book for KS2 readers either in the classroom or at home.

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