Herpetologists in South America have found the first fluorescent amphibian.
Amy Nordrum of IEEE Spectrum joins Ira to talk about the discovery of the world’s first fluorescent frog in South America. Not to be confused with bioluminescence, the light that this frog emits is first absorbed as short-wavelength electromagnetic radiation and then reemitted at a longer wavelength.
Vocabulary: fluorescence, bioluminescence, herpetologist, amphibian, photoreceptors
- Amy Nordrum mentions that fluorescence is different from light that animals produce themselves, called bioluminescence. Based on the images above and interview, create a definition for fluorescence.
- South American polka-dot tree frogs are nocturnal, which means that they are active at night. Why do you think they might fluoresce?
- Based on this study, what would you want to explore or investigate about fluorescence in frogs?
- Dive deeper into the electromagnetic spectrum. Have students investigate black lights by turning their phone into one. Students can construct explanations with the aid of this article about creating a UV light from your phone flash or this video about how black lights work. Have them use their phones to find objects or organisms that fluoresce.
- Have students make a simple UV Detector using tonic water to look at ultraviolet light (UV) from the sun.
Nowogrodzki, Anna. “First Fluorescent Frog Found.” Nature News. Nature Publishing Group, 13 Mar 2017.
Original Paper: Naturally occurring fluorescence in frogs. PNAS, 13 Mar 2017.
Lead Photo Credit: The Polka-dot Treefrog (Hypsiboas punctatus). Credit: Pavel Kirillov from St.Petersburg, Russia [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons