zoology biology benno meyer rochow florian nock biological light bioluminescence

Biological Light

“switched-on bugs” and other glowing critters

I sometimes tell my students that I once sat in front of my aquarium in a dark room reading a book – the light coming from 3 Indonesian flashlight fish. It’s a fact. Some animals (in case of my fish with the help of bacteria) are able to produce surprisingly bright lights. For example, half a dozen peenie-wallies (as the Jamaicans call their large luminescent click beetle) in a plastic bag will allow you to read a letter and Japanese soldiers during the war are said to have crushed tiny and dried luminescent mussel shrimps between the palms of their hands to study maps at night lest enemy spotter planes might see them from above. —>