Saturday, 6 May 2017

Invisible Fish: Hatchetfish Uses Stealth Technology to Evade Predators

Image courtesy of Francesco Costa, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Joel Kontinen

Compared to the best what human engineers have achieved in stealth technology, the lowly hatchetfish is way ahead of them.

A research highlights item in Nature describes how it manages to pull it off:

Hiding from predators is tricky in the open ocean, particularly at depths where ambient light still penetrates. The hatchetfish (Argyropelecus spp.) has a bioluminescent belly that allows it to blend in with sunlight from above. Now Alison Sweeney and her colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia have discovered other optical tricks that the animal uses to make itself invisible.”

The researchers used transmission electron microscopy and optical modelling to look at the fish’s skin and made some interesting observations:

“[They] found that it is composed of two layers of cells. The top layer consists of rectangular stacks of cells that reflect the faint ambient light while scattering light beams from predators that use bioluminescence to spot their prey. A second layer of cells, grouped together into thick, elliptical tubes, redirects light beams downward.”

As expected, the study has a biomimicry dimension:

Studying these specialized structures could aid the development of stealth technology for open-ocean vessels, the authors say.”

Darwinian mechanisms could hardly produce stealth technology, which requires intelligence.

Engineers are busy copying the smart solutions they see in us and in creatures big and small.

No wonder biomimicry or copying intelligent solutions seen in creation has become a flourishing research field.


Nature. 2017. Research Highlights: Hatchetfish cloaking strategies unveiled (3 May).