Home / Funny / Viral / Bioluminescence Found To Be Present In Animal Since 540 Million Years Ago


"Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism," according to NOAA. It is commonly found in marine animals that have developed this special characteristic over time. The true cause of the ability is still unknown, according to Andrea Quattrini of the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian. A recent paper by Quattrini and associates in Proceedings of the Royal Society B sheds light on the origins of bioluminescent marine life. It turns out that octocorals possessed this ability at least 540 million years ago. 

Lead author Danielle DeLeo states in a statement, "We wanted to figure out the timing of the origin of bioluminescence, and octocorals are one of the oldest groups of animals on the planet known to bioluminescence." "So, the question was, when did they become capable of doing this?" DeLeo had previously studied the evolution of octocorals, so they concentrated on them. They used statistical measures, comparing extant species with fossils.

According to Quattrini, "We can use statistics to infer whether or not their ancestors were highly probable to be bioluminescent if we know these species of octocorals living today are bioluminescent." "The greater the number of extant species sharing a particular trait, the more probable it is that those ancestors also shared that trait as you move further back in time." 

Their models suggest that ancient octocorals may have been able to generate light as far back as 540 million years ago. Compared to the luminescent ostracod crustaceans, which date back 273 million years, this estimate is far more ancient. The exact reason why octocorals can produce light is a mystery because, as the museum puts it, they "only do so [luminesce] when bumped or otherwise disturbed." 

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