Take a look at these stunning rare photos of glow-in-the-dark amphibians

The species are ‘glowing’ due to a little know process called biofluorescence (Picture: Chester Zoo/WENN)

Beautiful never-before-seen images of glowing reptiles, amphibians and invertebrate have been released by Chester Zoo, revealing how impressive these creatures are at night.

The pictures show a rare phenomenon of the species ‘glowing in the dark’.

The night-time images, taken at the zoo, show the creatures displaying vivid shades of red, blue and green under ultraviolet light.

They include colourful shots of chameleons, lizards, frogs, fish, snails – even corals look to be luminous.

The spectacle – known as biofluorescence – happens when when higher energy
wavelengths of light are absorbed and sent out at a lower energy wavelength.

Not much is known about why this occurs, but scientists do know it’s caused by proteins, pigments and chemicals reacting in the skin.

Dr Gerardo Garcia, curator of lower vertebrates and invertebrates at Chester Zoo, has several theories about the phenomenon.

He believes the animals may be glowing to communicate, find a mate or warn off predators.

Dr Garcia, who works to conserve some of the world’s rarest reptiles, amphibians, fishes and invertebrates, said: ‘I have worked closely with many these species for more than 30 years, but never before have I seen them in this way.

‘Seeing these different animals glow in a spectacular range of colours really is incredible, but the question remains – why do they glow?

Scientists are as baffled by the glowing as we are (Picture: Chester Zoo/WENN)
The never-before-seen photos were taken at the zoo at night (Picture: Chester Zoo/WENN)
Biofluorescence, the technical term for this spectacle, occurs when higher energy wavelengths of light, like ultraviolet, is absorbed and sent out at a lower energy wavelength, making the area glow (Picture: Chester Zoo/WENN)
The animals displayed vivid shades of red, blue and green under ultraviolet light (Picture: Chester Zoo/WENN)

‘Communication is everything in the animal world, and how a species presents itself visually is a big part of how they speak to friends and foes.

‘There are hundreds of frequencies of light and how animals see light, and therefore colours, is different to humans.

‘We actually only see a small portion of the sunlight, so although we may see an animal glowing brilliantly, their own kind, and even other species, may see this completely differently as they read a wavelength that our eyes can’t perceive.’

Dr Garcia says the glowing could highlight the animal’s assets, making attracting a mate easier.

He added: ‘The photos show that only some parts of the animals, such as a claw or an eye, glow – and there may be a good reason for this.

‘For the chameleon, for example, fluorescent patterns potentially give them a secondary signalling system that is different to their well-known colour change communication.

‘Males tend to have more tubercles (scales) on their heads than females, which makes them very attractive to the opposite sex.

While this phenomenon is widespread among animals and is caused by several different proteins, pigments and chemical reactions in the skin, little is currently known about why it occurs (Picture: Chester Zoo/WENN)
Communication is everything in the animal world, and how a species presents itself visually is a big part of how they speak to friends and foes (Picture: Chester Zoo/WENN)
There are hundreds of frequencies of light and how animals see light, and therefore colours, is different to humans (Picture: Chester Zoo/WENN)
The images are a striking show of the natural world (Picture: Chester Zoo/WENN)

‘So, with parts of their head glowing, this emphasises their striking head size to females, drawing them in for a closer look.

‘Another theory for an animal’s ability to glow is to mark its territory to others.

‘This is mainly to communicate their social status and ownership, which can help attract a partner and warn off competitors.

‘Some fish may use their ability to change colour to hide from predators.

‘So, instead of them standing out to potential mates, they could glow to help camouflage.

‘Some even go as far as posing as a particular species’ mate when, in fact, they’re its predator.

Dr Garcia says he’s never seen animals in this way (Picture: Chester Zoo/WENN)
The photos were taken in the night at Chester Zoo (Picture: Chester Zoo/WENN)
Scientists are keen to determine exactly why this happens (Picture: Chester Zoo/WENN)
Even the coral glows (Picture: Chester Zoo/WENN)

‘A fourth explanation could be that it’s just not functional at all and is simply a
reaction when exposed to UV light.

‘Fluorescence in terrestrial (land-dwelling) vertebrates has been underestimated until now, and its evolutionary role requires more research.

‘Our understanding of the role of fluorescence in animal vision is in its early stages, but it does open an exciting door to understand the complex world of animal and plant communication.

‘Whatever the reason for these magnificent sights, they’re fantastic to document and share with others.

‘We hope these stunning images will further engage people on the importance to protect the unique environment we share with fascinating species of plants and animals.’

The stunning images are sure to capture the attention of many.

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