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Scientists in Argentina have discovered a frog that glows in moonlight and at twilight. Fluorescence in terrestrial environments had previously only been traced to a few species of insects and birds and had never been scientifically reported in any of the world’s 7,000-plus amphibian species.
A team of herpetologists made the headline-grabbing discovery in the outskirts of the city of Santa Fe, Argentina, while collecting frogs to research the biochemical cloricia in amphibians. They sought out the polka-dot tree frog (Hypsiboas punctatus), a species found throughout South America, because its translucent skin allows the accumulation of biliverdin (a blue-green bile pigment) to be seen with the naked eye.
But when they shone a UVA light on the frogs, they did not see the faint red biliverdin emission they had anticipated. Rather, what they saw was a bright and beautiful cyan fluorescence. So luminous were the frogs that under the black light they glowed in the dark, helping the scientists locate specimens. This fluorescence was present in all of the 100-plus polka-dot tree frogs collected.