Fluorescence discovered in tiny Brazilian frogs

Fluorescence discovered in tiny Brazilian frogs Tiny toadlets from Brazilian woodland have fluorescent skeletons, scientists realize the Independent. The glow may be used to communicate with other members of their species.

Tiny frogs found in the depths of the Brazilian rainforest have an unusual power – fluorescent skeletons that may help them communicate with each other.

Fluorescence discovered in tiny Brazilian frogs

Scientists think pumpkin toadlets are using their glowing bodies either to signal to fellow frogs or to warn predators they are poisonous to eat.

They made the surprising discovery while investigating how the frogs interact during mating season and deciding to shine a UV light on their backs.

They are the newest creatures to own their visible radiation unconcealed by researchers, with spiders, chameleons and birds sharing similar abilities.

Fluorescence discovered in tiny Brazilian frogs

“The fluorescent patterns area unit solely visible to the human eye below an ultraviolet radiation lamp,” said Dr Sandra Goutte, a researcher at New York University Abu Dhabi.

“In nature, if they were visible to different animals, they could be used as intra-specific communication signals with other pumpkin toadlets or as reinforcement of their aposematic colouration, warning potential predators of their toxicity.

“However, more research on the behaviour of these frogs and their predators is needed to pinpoint the potential function of this unique luminescence.”

Fluorescence discovered in tiny Brazilian frogs
Fluorescence discovered in tiny Brazilian frogs

The toadlets turned out to have entirely fluorescent skeletons, although this was only visible on parts of their body where bony plates sat underneath very thin skin.

At these sites, the lack of dark pigment cells allowed light to travel easily through the skin, meaning the bone’s fluorescence reflected back and appeared as bluish-white patches.

Toadlets fluorescence bones

The scientist compared the fluorescence with other closely related species to demonstrate their bones gave off a comparatively bright light.

As the toadlets area unit active throughout the day, the scientists think the UV of sunlight likely creates a glow that is visible to some animals.

fluorescent skeletons
Fluorescence discovered in tiny Brazilian frogs

In parrots and spiders, similar glowing patches have been shown to play a role in sexual communication.

Last year scientists found that the puffin’s brightly coloured beak also glows under UV light, and suggested this too may play a role in attracting the opposite sex. The new analysis was printed within the journal Scientific Reports.

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