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This oversized model represents a jack-o-lantern mushroom around 40 times the mushroom’s actual size. In one of these types of mushrooms, the honey mushroom, only the mycelia—root-like branches that run through the wood—glow with an eerie light known as foxfire.©AMNH\D. Finnin
Panellus stipticus – or bioluminescent mushrooms – grow on decaying wood in the forests of eastern North America.© AMNH\J. Sparks
Found in the central and southeastern U.S., Phausis reticulata is sometimes called a blue ghost. Instead of flashing, its glow slowly strengthens and fades as it flies above the ground, searching for flightless females below. (Model shown is 65 times actual size.)©AMNH\D. Finnin
This section of the exhibition evokes an evening lit by fireflies, all signaling to one another in their species-specific “language of light.”©AMNH\D. Finnin
Photographer Tsuneaki Hiramatsu combined slow–shutter speed photos to produce stunning images of firefly signals in Japan.© Tsuneaki Hiramatsu, digitalphoto.cocolog-nifty.com
In this re-creation of New Zealand’s Waitomo cave system, visitors glimpse a fantastic spectacle above their heads: sticky “fishing lines” dropped from the ceiling by glowworms—bioluminescent gnat larvae—to trap prey.©AMNH\D. Finnin
This interactive environment introduces visitors to the brilliant light displays of Mosquito Bay on Vieques Island in Puerto Rico, where high concentrations of microscopic dinoflagellates create a glowing halo around anything that moves through the water.©AMNH\D. Finnin
This large-scale, day-and-night interactive image shows the Cayman Islands’ Bloody Bay Wall, a species-rich coral wall that is home to many bioluminescent and biofluorescent animals.©AMNH\D. Finnin
Visitors will see live fluorescent scorpions—a vivid example of creatures with fluorescent molecules that glow under ultraviolet light.©AMNH\D. Finnin
When Aequorea victoria is poked or jostled, spots on its rim light up like an emerald necklace. Inside its miniature light organs, a chemical reaction makes blue bioluminescent light, and a fluorescent molecule turns the blue light to green.©AMNH\D. Finnin
Male ponyfish beckon to females with a special pattern of flashing light. The source of the light is a ring of tissue around the male’s throat that is packed with bioluminescent bacteria. Internal structures channel the light to clear patches on the fish’s flanks, where it shines out so females can pick up the signal.©AMNH\D. Finnin
Anomalops katoptron harbor bioluminescent bacteria in an organ under their eyes and use the light produced by the bacteria to communicate, avoid predation, and to attract prey. Live flashlight fish are on display in Creatures of Light.© FMNH\L. Smith and AMNH\J. Sparks
A female Linophryne algibarbata has a modified dorsal fin spine topped with a lure that pulses with bacterial light. She dangles the lure above her gaping jaws while luminous tendrils that look like seaweed trail from her chin. If another fish swims up to investigate, it becomes dinner.©AMNH\D. Finnin
When threatened by a predator, Vampyroteuthis infernalis waves flashing arm tips and startles its enemy with a flurry of light.©AMNH\D. Finnin
This fish uses its pulsing red “stoplight” to spot its prey, such as shrimp, who can’t detect the fish’s red light. The predator then catches the crustacean in its oversized and extendable “loose” jaw. The stoplight loosejaw is among the few deep-sea animals that both produce and see red light.©AMNH\D. Finnin
This remotely operated vehicle gathers samples of living organisms as well as data from the deep ocean floor. Model is displayed courtesy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego.©AMNH\D. Finnin
Visitors can learn more by interacting with iPads, which offer engaging videos, animations, photographs, and additional in-depth content about bioluminescence and related phenomena designed exclusively for this exhibition.©AMNH\D. Finnin
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