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Tasmanian Devils found to be biofluorescent by Toledo Zoo

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The Toledo Zoo in Toledo, Ohio made a fascinating discovery this week, Tasmanian devils are biofluorescent! Biofluorescence is when a living organism absorbs light and reemits it in a different color. The zoo is the first to record and document this phenomenon and shared a picture showing what this looks like on the animals.

In the case of Tasmanian devil; their eyes, ears, and snouts emit a blue light. Biofluorescence occurs in roughly 200 animals including coral, fish, birds, sharks, and mammals. Recently, the platypus and the wombat were found to show biofluorescence at well. Biofluorescence is captured when a photographer shines a high intensity blue light on an organism and a yellow filter is used to block out the blue which allows the fluorescence to shine through.

The Tasmanian devil is native to Australia and is the world’s largest omnivorous marsupial. The Toledo Zoo said Jake Schoen, their Conservation Technician, came up with the idea to test the animal for biofluorecense. It’s unknown at the time why Tasmanian devils have evolved this trait but some the two leading theories are that it has bioluminescence to camouflage themselves or possibly to attract mates. Schoen said, It’s really exciting to see more and more discoveries. But what I’m most excited about is to see is research being done on the significance of it, if there is any, and to see if animals are using it to their benefit or if it’s just a coincidence.”