According to a new study, a tiny marine snail emits its green glow which it uses to scare away predators.
Scientists at UC San Diego suspect that Hinea brasiliana, a type of clusterwink snail, uses the bioluminescence to create the illusion of a bigger animal than it really is whenever potential predators approach. In a lab experiment, the snail lit up when confronted by swimming shrimp and crabs.
“It’s rare for any bottom-dwelling snails to produce bioluminescence. So it’s even more amazing that the snail has a shell that maximizes the signal so efficiently,” researcher Nerida Wilson explained.
Researchers knew that these snails produce light, but now they discovered that rather than emitting a focused beam of light, the snails use their shells to scatter and spread bright green bioluminescent light in all directions.
“The light diffusion capacity we see with this snail is much greater than comparative reference material. Our next focus is to understand what makes the shell have this capacity and that could be important for building materials with better optical performance,” said Dmitri Deheyn from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, who led the study.
The findings are published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B.