Thursday, 9 February 2017

Bioluminescence Remains a Darwinian Mystery

Bioluminescence can hardly be explained by Darwinian storytelling. Image courtesy of catalano82, Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0).

Joel Kontinen

A new paper in PLOS ONE features bioluminescence in a fish that prefers to dwell in the shelter of coral reefs:

Bioluminescence is a fascinating phenomenon occurring in numerous animal taxa in the ocean. The reef dwelling splitfin flashlight fish (Anomalops katoptron) can be found in large schools during moonless nights in the shallow water of coral reefs and in the open surrounding water. Anomalops katoptron produce striking blink patterns with symbiotic bacteria in their sub-ocular light organs.”

So far, so good. Bioluminescence suggests design, as does symbiosis that time and again presents a chicken or egg dilemma for evolution.

Most of the paper deals with good experimental science. But then, suddenly, we are confronted with a bizarre claim:

A recent study reported 27 independent evolutionary events of bioluminescence in marine ray-finned fish.”

The authors don’t elaborate on what they mean by “evolutionary events,” but the context suggests that many non-related marine animals share this trait.

The conventional Darwinian explanation for this phenomenon is convergent evolution.

It is misused a lot.

The only thing that this explains is that Darwinian expectations are way off the mark.


Hellinger, Jens et al. 2017. The Flashlight Fish Anomalops katoptron Uses Bioluminescent Light to Detect Prey in the Dark. PLOS ONE (8 February).