Why Do Flying Squirrels Glow Hot Pink in UV Light?



Today's episode is brought to you by smart water twenty years ago. Smart water, reimagined, what water could be from thoughtful bottle designed to supporting smart people who are changing our world through fresh thinking. Like, you smart water has added electrolytes for taste and great tasting water helps you stay hydrated, feeling refreshed and ready to take on your day. Refresh yourself with smart water. Welcome to brain stuff from how stuff works. Hey, rain stuff, Lauren Vogel. Bam here. It's amazing. What you can find. If you shine a flashlight into your backyard trees, a biologist in Wisconsin have made a rather startling discovery that way in part startling because it apparently hadn't been recorded until now three different species of flying. Squirrels specifically southern northern and Humboldt flying squirrel, which are found across North America and into Central America sport light Brown for that when spotlighted with ultra-violet illumination lights up a hot bubblegum pink the phenomenon occurs on both the top and bottom services of the flying. Squirrels though, it's the underside of a flying. Squirrels carriage, including the flaps of skin that spread out when the squirrel glides from tree to tree really glows Jonathan Martin a biologist at Northland college in Ashland. Wisconsin made the discovery in the forest one evening just by shining a UV flashlight into the tree canopy he was looking for lichens, which are certain type. Of frogs and flora that light up in UV light. That's when he heard the church of a southern flying, squirrel as the squirrel glided by he shined the flashlight on it. And he saw a flash of fuchsia. Martin and his colleagues soon found themselves examining the skins of flying. Squirrels at the science museum of Minnesota. And the field museum in Chicago. They took photos of the skins under visible, light and ultra violet light all but one specimen of the gliders glowed pink that has been variously compared to bubble gum dayglo and lycra from the nineteen eighty s there is also the study republished in the January twenty third twenty nineteen issue of the journal of Malecki, the pink is caused the researchers say by the furs fluorescence, which is what happens when light is absorbed in one wavelength and emitted in another you may remember an episode. We did about how scorpions fluorescent bright green and ultraviolet light some birds also have this trait some fish too few mammals do though flying. Squirrels are nocturnal and are most active at dusk and dawn, no other squirrels in North America are known to possess this ability to floor s including tree squirrels like the eastern gray though, there are over. Two hundred and fifty squirrel species around the world and to be fair. The researchers have not yet tested other species for the next question is what purpose could this fluorescent serve. Humans can't see ultraviolet wavelengths except under special lighting, but other animals can one theory suggests the pink is used to confuse als, which as it turns out also have undersides that Flores a similar pink ELS prey on flying. Squirrels among other mammals, perhaps the squirrels evolved to mimic als. So as not to be eaten by them another theory, which is already being challenged is that the pink attracts potential mates a flying. Squirrels have mating seasons. But their flamboyant fluorescence is available for viewing year round. Anyway, it's not even clear that squirrels can see in UV wavelengths. Ultimately, the researchers point out that age old impetus of science, this is proof of how much we don't know and still need to learn the study concluded the ecological significance of this. Trait warrants further investigation. Today's episode was written by Jimmy Allen and produced by Tyler clang for I heart media, and how stuff works for more on this and lots of other topics. Visit our home planet has to works dot com. Hebron stuff instead of an ad today. I wanted to tell you about another podcast that I think you might like dressed the history of fashion, join fashion historians, April Callaghan and Cassidy Zachary twice a week as they explore. The who what when and why of what we wear the history of fashion is a history of capitalism and culture, power dynamics in gender relations of politics, religion, and technology, full episodes drop on Tuesdays and beginning with season to April and Cassidy answer your questions in a fashion history mystery, Minnesota every Thursday find dressed the history of fashion on apple podcasts the iheartradio app or wherever you get your podcasts.

Coming up next