Friday, April 27, 2007

light emitting suckers!

Yeah, you heard me right. An octopus with suckers on its tentacles that emit light! Apparently squids and cuttlefish are known to have light organs in their bodies. This study found that the deep sea finned octopus Stauroteuthis syrtensis has suckers that are bioluminescent and emit blue-green light (Johnsen, et al. 1999).

The study says that "when stimulated" the suckers emit light that can last up to five minutes. The light organs can glow or blink on and off. The suckers aren't able to stick to surfaces, so they may be evolved from functional suckers. Apparently, it may have been S. syrtensis' move to the deep sea that turned his traditional suckers into light emitting organs.

The authors believe the modified suckers are for communication and prey attraction. They might be used in sexual signaling (like all those lights on the vegas strip). The suckers might also be used to trap small crustaceans, because crustaceans are attracted to bioluminescence (because the crabs' food is often bioluminescent).

Reference: S. Johnsen, E.A. Balser, and E.A. Widder, 1999. Light-emitting suckers in an octopus. Nature, vol. 398, pp. 113-114.

1 comment:

MaryCat said...

Can you arrange to have one installed over my patio? I think it would make for nice lighting at summer cookouts. I am sure I could splash salt water around and it would be just like home.