Glowing Gecko

Aussie animals glow in the dark, according to reports in ABC News 26 November 2020 and 8 December 2020, and Mammalia 15 October 2020, doi: 10.1515/mammalia-2020-0027.

Scientists at Northland College, USA, were investigating biofluorescence – a phenomenon seen when fur, feathers or skin absorb ultra-violet (UV) light and re-emit visible light. If UV light is shone on them they glow in the dark in a variety of colours depending on the wavelength of re-emitted light.  Scientists already knew that some North American mammals that are active in the dawn and dusk were biofluorescent.  Since platypus are also active at these times, they decided to test museum specimens in the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago. 

The platypus specimens glowed in shades of blue, green a purple when UV light was shone on them.  After they reported their findings other scientists around the world tested other Australian mammals in zoos and museums and found biofluorescence in marsupial moles, bilbies, wombats and Tasmanian Devils. 

Scientists are not sure what function the glow has, but suggest it is for species identification and communication.  Jacob Schoen of Toledo Zoo explained: “We already know that bird species use biofluorescence to attract their mate, so it could indicate the devils signal to another species.” 

Menna Jones of University of Tasmania, who studies Tasmanian Devils, commented: “Now that researchers are looking into this more closely, it means we could be discovering a whole new sensory realm of communication that we weren’t aware of.” 

Sarah Munks, an expert in platypus at the University of Tasmania thinks it could be “an ancient form of camouflage”.  She went on to comment: “It could just be one of these ancestral traits, like humans have remnant tails.”

Links: ABC 26 Nov, ABC 8 Dec

Editorial Comment: Did you like our glowing Aussie native Gecko at Jurassic Ark in the montage above?  It hides under a bin of metal filings in winter and seems to glow blue when agitated or photographed with a flash.

Today’s animal and bird colours are often considered to be camouflage, and in a kill or be killed world they may be used this way, but we can’t think of a single camouflage reason for a blue glowing gecko in an Aussie Gum forest. And let’s face it, in the very good world that God originally made there was no need for camouflage, as all animals ate plants.

Colours and colour effects such a biofluorescence certainly are useful for species identification, communication and attracting mates.  For any animals that are active during the dawn and dusk periods, such fluorescence would be useful for finding and identifying others of the same kind. Also, God likes beautiful things, and it is consistent with His character to make something that is both beautiful and functional.  Therefore, the comment about “a whole new sensory realm of communication” is more likely to be the truth.  It is not new for the animals, but it is new to us as we learn more about God’s creation.  It will be interesting to see what further research, especially out in the field, reveals. 

After the world degenerated due to human sin and God’s judgement, animals did need to hide from predators and would have used whatever features they already had for that purpose.  But blue glowing geckos under rusty brown bins in a grey dry environment has us mystified.

However, one last comment is needed – we can be sure biofluorescence will not turn out to be “one of these ancestral traits, like humans have remnant tails” because humans do not have remnant tails.  See the questions:

HUMAN TAILS? I have read that babies can be born with true tails. Are these leftovers from our evolutionary ancestors? Answer here.

TAILS & WHALES: As men have genes for tails and whales have genes for legs, surely we must have evolved? Answer here.

Creation Research News 2020

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