Platypus Fur Glows In Ultraviolet Light
The platypus is different from most mammals. The amphibious creature can lay eggs, use venom, and it has now been revealed that their fur reacts to ultraviolet (UV) light.
Few animals have as diverse a makeup as the platypus. Many believe that the platypus descends from an ancient mammal evolutionary lineage called monotremes, which would explain why the animal has some of its odd features, but it turns out its ability to glow in UV light connects it to two other mammal lineages.
A study undertaken by Northland College found that the platypus would glow green in UV light. Taxidermied platypuses were tested in the Field Museum to confirm this, and interestingly one of the researchers had previously found that the flying squirrel has the same trait.
Alongside the platypus and the flying squirrel, opossums also have this evolutionary feature. The Mammalia journal published the article, which went on to hypothesise that the species and ‘others developed biofluorescence to adapt to low light conditions’. However, the decision to test the fur of the platypus seems to have spawned out of interest.
Lead author of the study, Professor Paula Spaeth Anich, of Northland College, explained:
It was a mix of serendipity and curiosity that led us to shine a UV light on the platypuses at the Field Museum, but we were also interested in seeing how deep in the mammalian tree the trait of biofluorescent fur went.
It’s thought that monotremes branched off the marsupial-placental lineage more than 150 million years ago. So, it was intriguing to see that animals that were such distant relatives also had biofluorescent fur.
The team behind the research now intend to work alongside scientists in Australia to see if they can find instances of platypuses using their ultraviolet fur in the wild.
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