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Worms that light up

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Buried in sand and hidden in tubes they make themselves from a material that looks like parchment, marine worms of the Chaetopterus variopedatus species have an odd strategy for emergencies: they release a viscous mucus and emit a blue light. It has yet to be confirmed whether the reaction is a defense by these 10-centimeter-long animals that serve as tasty treats for many fish. “Once we understand the chemistry, we can explain the ecological function of the behavior,” says chemist Anderson Garbuglio de Oliveira, who is studying the process responsible for the bioluminescence, which is rare in other species of this type of organism.

Image submitted by Anderson Garbuglio de Oliveira, professor at the Oceanographic Institute of the University of São Paulo

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