Creatures from the deep surface in NY exhibit

Mar 28, 2012
Jellyfish are on display as part of the "Creatures of Light: Nature's Bioluminescence" exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Some 80 percent of species that light up live underwater, where fish, squid and other creatures use lights for everything from attracting mates, to defense, and, intriguingly, to lure in prey.

They have their own lights, teeth, and weird names like vampire squid, stoplight loosejaws, and bristlemouth -- meet the weird denizens of the deep surfacing for an exhibition in New York starting this week.

The American Museum of Natural History's "Creatures of Light: Nature's Bioluminescence," which opens Saturday, takes a look at the phenomenon of wildlife that produces light, especially inhabitants of the furthest reaches of the oceans.

The descent this week by Hollywood director into the Pacific's , the deepest point in the world, was a reminder of how little explored those waters are. Cameron reported back that he saw no sign of life in his relatively brief trip.

But the exhibit uncovers a hidden world of bizarre fish who use their natural lights to survive in permanently dark waters.

"'Creatures of Light' reveals to the public some of the most magical, wondrous, and truly extraordinary creatures and phenomena to be found in the natural world," Ellen Futter, president of the , told reporters.

A large scale firefly is on display as part of the "Creatures of Light: Nature's Bioluminescence" exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The exhibit takes a look at the phenomenon of wildlife that produces light, especially inhabitants of the furthest reaches of the oceans.

The most commonly known examples of are on land: the that dance in summer months around gardens. Glowworms are another.

But some 80 percent of species that light up live underwater, where fish, squid and other creatures use lights for everything from attracting mates, to defense, and, intriguingly, to lure in prey.

The light comes from organisms eaten by the fish or squid, or in other cases is supplied by colonies of carried on the creature.

"It's crazy down there, it's strange," curator John Sparks said.

The creatures' habitat typically begins at depths of about 1,300 feet (400 meters). They include the vampire squid, which has red or blue eyes, or the anglerfish, which has its own , with a light on the end, to pull dazed prey right into its horrific looking, toothy mouth.

Sparks said the exhibition was held up until the last possible moment so as to be able to take into account the latest discoveries.

"We have been in a rush but we wanted to be extremely current," he said.

The exhibition, also organized by the Canadian Museum of Nature and Chicago's Field Museum, runs through January 6.

Explore further: Academic journals should adopt nonprofit publishing model, expert says

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Eleven-foot 'giant herring' found off Sweden

May 12, 2010

A "giant herring" measuring 3.5 metres (11.4 feet) has been discovered off Sweden's western coast -- the first such fish found in the Scandinavian country in more than 130 years, a maritime museum said Tuesday.

Creatures from the deep exposed

Mar 11, 2011

An academic from the University of Plymouth has helped unravel the largely unexplored weird and wonderful world of deep-sea marine life.

Recommended for you

Research band at Karolinska tuck Dylan gems into papers

Sep 29, 2014

(Phys.org) —A 17-year old bet among scientists at the Karolinska Institute has been a wager that whoever wrote the most articles with Dylan quotes before they retired would get a free lunch. Results included ...

A simulation game to help people prep for court

Sep 25, 2014

Preparing for court and appearing before a judge can be a daunting experience, particularly for people who are representing themselves because they can't afford a lawyer or simply don't know all the ropes ...

When finding 'nothing' means something

Sep 25, 2014

Scientists usually communicate their latest findings by publishing results as scientific papers in journals that are almost always accessible online (albeit often at a price), ensuring fast sharing of latest ...

User comments : 0