The most beautiful animal you’ve never seen

Written by: Lisa Stelzner

Primary Source: Daily Dose of Science Blog

I bet that most of you who haven’t seen this website shared already haven’t heard of a sea sapphire (I hadn’t).  They are copepods (shrimp-like sea animals) just a few millimeters long that can be found in several of the world’s oceans.  Males float in the water and look like a shimmering, glowing, iridescent sapphire due to extremely thin crystal plates in their cells.  These plates are separated about the distance of the wavelength of blue light, so they only reflect back a blue color through their transparent bodies.  They appear to flicker on and off, and Japanese fishermen even named the sight of thousands of them at the water’s surface “tama-mizu”, or jeweled water.

Photo credit: Stefan Siebert
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Lisa Stelzner
I'm a plant biology PhD student studying monarch butterflies in Michigan, but I'm interested in lots of other types of science, too. I am interested in how breeding monarch butterflies choose their habitat based on floral species richness and abundance. Few studies have been conducted on optimal foraging theory when it involves an organism searching for two different kinds of resources, and butterflies are an ideal study system to investigate this, since many species are ovipositing specialists and only lay eggs on one species of hostplant, but are feeding generalists and nectar from a broad variety of flowering forbs.