Bioluminescence stories

The American Museum of Natural History, the home of "that giant whale," welcomed a new creature feature into its halls on Saturday. It's called Creatures of Light, and it's all about bioluminescence, a naturally occurring chemical phenomenon that lets a variety of critters light up like LEDs. If you've sat on a porch somewhere and saw fireflies signal to one another in the dark with pinpricks of pulsing yellow, you've seen bioluminescence in action. Fireflies use the signals to attract prospective mates, but that's not the only way animals employ the ability. The stoplight loosejaw fish is "among the few deep-sea animals that both produce and see red light," according to the exhibit. It's basically got its own built-in night vision that lets it see the shrimp it hunts without its red glow giving it away. Bioluminescence isn't constrained to flies and fish. As you'll see in the gallery below, there are a lot of different species that use it, and in a lot of different ways. Read on for more on what to expect at Creatures of Light: Nature's Bioluminescence.