Scientists Accidentally Find Marsupials Glow In The Dark

by : Daniel Richardson on : 27 Nov 2020 16:35
Scientists Accidentally Find Marsupials Glow In The DarkScientists Accidentally Find Marsupials Glow In The DarkKenny Travouillon/Twitter

It was recently found that the platypus glows under ultraviolet light. One Australian museum curator wanted to see if this was the case for other animals and the results were pretty surprising.  

A study published in Mammalia revealed that taxidermist platypus’ glowed in the dark when exposed to UV light. This unusual discovery, which happened by accident, has mystified many as more research about the reasoning is undertaken.


The study inspired the curator of Mammalogy at the Western Australian Museum, Kenny Travouillo, to test out the UV light on other mammals and marsupials. It turns out that marsupial moles, bilbies and wombats all glow in a similar way to the platypus.

glow in the dark platypusglow in the dark platypusMammalia 2020

Travouillon explained to the ABC Radio Hobart how they went about testing the study:

We borrowed it and turned off the lights in the collection and looked around for what was glowing and not glowing. The first one we checked was the platypus obviously. We shone the light and they were also glowing, it confirmed the research.


After testing the theory on a local platypus, the team then went on to tests new marsupials. While not all of the animals glowed fully, there were cases of luminescence in specific regions.

Marsupials are a member of the mammal family and are essentially a collection of small mammals from Australasia and the Americas. It is unclear whether this response to ultraviolet light is an evolutionary development that helps with detection and identification, or something else. While there isn’t concrete reasoning behind this trait, there are plenty of creatures to test the study on such as koalas, shrews and kangaroos.

This study looks like it may have plenty to research to do, and it will be interesting to see why these creatures have developed such an unusual trait.


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Daniel Richardson

After graduating from university, Dan went on to work with a variety of tech startups and media outlets. Through working with the likes of Game Rant, The Hook and What Culture, Dan pursued his interests in technology. The skills he picked up along the way are now being utilised with UNILAD.

Topics: Technology, Now, Science, Tech