These lucky polyps get to keep their holiday decorations up all year long!
Scientists have found a new species of fluorescent polyps (soft organisms that are related to sea anemones and jellyfish) living on the shells of underwater gastropods (snails and slugs) in the Red Sea. Unlike other polyps, these tiny creatures form colonies on shells and glow bright green under fluorescent lights in a beautiful Christmas light-like display. Not only is the discovery of these polyps exciting, but it also represents the first time scientists are able to use specific areas of glow on the body of animals, such as these newly studied polyps, to distinguish between species that are structurally the same. Very little is known about the symbiotic relationship (when two species live together and support each other) between the polyps and their gastropod hosts, or the role that glow plays, but the scientists think that the green glow may attract the polyp’s prey when the snails come out to hunt at night. They are also interested in learning how the polyps choose their host, and how the glow varies from species to species of polyp.
I am excited to learn more about these beautiful creatures, and will keep an eye open for new research. Until then I will be imagining the amazing works of science fiction that could be inspired by these glowing snails!
Want to learn more? Visit http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160205105353.htm
Feb 8, 2016