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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Best Thing I've Read Today

Kenneth Chang writes about Duke biology professor Sonke Johnsen, who studies deep-sea animals that use transparency to make them invisible to predators:

An eel larva is almost flat, and its see-through body is almost featureless except for the bones. “These guys can actually absorb some of their nutrients through their skin, so I don’t think there’s much of a gut,” Dr. Johnsen said.

But transparency can complicate life in other ways. Transparent creatures near the surface could be sunburned, not only on the skin but inside, too. To protect themselves from ultraviolet light, “these guys basically have suntan lotion in their transparent tissues,” Dr. Johnsen said.

But that then allows predators with eyes sensitive to ultraviolet light to see them after all. “There’s this evolutionary arms race,” he said. “I call it ‘Fry or die.’ ”
Read Change's full piece here.