You read it first in this week’s The Factory in Guide magazine.

Fluorescent fur Platypus fur glows under UV light. –

You read it first in this week’s The Factory in Guide magazine.

God has made some pretty strange and awesome creatures on this planet! Without a doubt, the platypus of Australia has to be one of the most unique and wonderful of them all.

Why do I think this? Well, for starters it is a mammal that looks more like a duck in many respects. It lays eggs and it has a large looking duck-like bill, and it has paddle flippers kind of like duck’s feet. It also spends a lot of time in the marshy water, probably eating some of the same kinds of things a duck would eat.

But it also reminds me of a beaver. Its body has fur and is similar in color to a beaver. While in the water its tail floats behind him like a beaver’s. However, the platypus’ tail is covered with fur. And like the beaver, they swim very well and spend a lot of time in the water. In fact, the beaver’s tail looks kind of like the platypus’ bill!

When the platypus dives to find food it closes its eyes and ears, so it can’t see or hear in the water.  They have a system of thousands of specialized nerve endings in their snout. The nerve endings allow them to move around and detect electrical signals given off by the muscles of prey.

There is another striking feature to the platypus, apparently its fur glows differing shades of green and blue under ultraviolet light! Under visible light a platypus’s extremely dense fur — which insulates and protects them in cold water — is a drab brown, so the trippy glow revealed under UV light on a stuffed museum specimen was a big surprise. 

Biofluorescence — absorbing and re-emitting light as a different color — is widespread in fish, amphibians, birds and reptiles. But the trait is much rarer in mammals, and this is the first evidence of biofluorescence in egg-laying mammals, also known as monotremes, scientists reported in a new study.

Platypuses navigate their twilit, aquatic environments through mechanoreception, the detection of mechanical stimuli such as touch and sound, and electrostimulation, the perception of natural electrical signals. Because they don’t rely heavily on sight, it’s possible that their biofluorescence is not used to communicate with each other, but to reduce their visibility to predators, as in the case in some biofluorescent crustaceans.

While scientists are still studying why some mammals glow different colors in UV light, they do know that most of these are nocturnal or most active in dusk and dawn. The platypus is indeed a wondrous work! Psalm 145:4, 5 says, “One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, And on Your wondrous works.” NKJV

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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