Nearly 2-Meter Glow-In-The-Dark Shark Is Largest Known Luminous Vertebrate Yet

If you have been late with our plant and animal feeds, you have chosen plenty of animals to join the “Glimpse of Darkness” club. From the springhares of Africa to the Marsupials of Australia and even a web-footed gecko, the natural world is seeing its unique light. The city has three new competitors, and one is the largest illuminated spine known to science. The specimen raised is the kitefin shark, which has been observed to be exposed to two more deep-sea sharks as well as ultraviolet (UV) light. Bioluminescence is by no means a deep-sea supply. Everything from shrimp to jellyfish and snails are shaking the glow-up, and the ability to illuminate seems to play a greater role in deep-sea ecosystems than the first thought.

Light is a big issue the creatures that occupy what known as the twilight zone in the water column, ranging from 200 meters below to one thousand meters (650 to 3,280 feet) deep? The interface sits in the upper sunlight species, which knows a lot about science and the mysterious creatures of the depths, over which we rarely grasp. The three species identified, published in the Frontiers Journal of Marine Science, include all specimens from the Chatham Rise, including the kitefin shark (Dalatias licha), the blackbelly lanternshark (Etmopterus lucifer) and the southern lanternshark (Etmopterus granulosus).

The researchers photographed sharks under UV light to compare their illumination against each other, and combined this information with samples from shark light organs where light produced by chemical reactions. Growing to about 1.8 meters (6feet), kitefin’s luminescence makes it the largest illuminated spine known to science. The blackbelly and Southern Lanterns were similarly luminescent, but they were comparable to diddy Sharks only 47 and 60 centimeters (1.5 to 1.9 feet) tall, respectively. 

It is not clear why sharks evolved to be so enlightened, but researchers think it could be to improve their hunting success. Luminescence may be presented to illuminate the minimum depth and as a means of exposing or disguising the prey, but further research is needed to investigate whether the theory holds water. “Bioluminescence is often seen as a spectacular yet unusual phenomenon in the oceans, but given the vastness of the deep ocean and the presence of illuminated creatures in the region, it is now clear that building the structure of our planet’s largest ecosystem must play a key role in producing light at depth.” The author wrote.

“This first experimental study of three New Zealand illuminated shark species provides insights into the diversity of shark bioluminescence and highlights the need for further research to help these abnormal deep-sea dwellers understand: illuminated sharks.”