Fish are one of the most visible and important members of aquatic ecological systems. Ranging from big carnivorous Sharks to the docile and small goldfish, these animals are amazingly diverse in their appearances and their behaviours. The study of deep-sea ecology has revealed many wonderful facts about fish and aquatic animals in general.
The discovery of the terrifying angler fish is just one of the surprises that the depths of the oceans have kept hidden from us. Constant attempts at improving our knowledge about the creatures living at the depths of the ocean have continued to reveal such surprising facts.
The depths of the ocean are notoriously dark. Light cannot reach the seabed in most cases. It follows to logic that the creatures that call these places their home have evolved to take advantage of the environmental conditions that they face.
A single ray of light can blow the cover of an animal, which depends on the darkness to hide from prey and predator alike. Researchers have made a startling discovery that at least 16 species of fish exist which have equipped themselves through natural selection with specialized skin, which can absorb 99.95 per cent of all photons that fall on it.
The specialized skin is so effective that these creatures appear as a shadow even under a harsh spotlight. The researchers tried their best, setting up the cameras and the lights in all possible directions and angles, however, the skin was too adept at its job. Naturally, things were taken to labs to study this bizarre phenomenon more intimately.
The researchers took samples from 18 species from the Gulf of Mexico and analyzed them carefully. Sixteen of the species reflected only 0.5 per cent of the light. This skin covered the whole body of the species to absorb the bio-luminescent light emitted by prey and predators.
The fish have surpassed ultra-black butterflies and are equivalent to the blackest birds of paradise. The interesting thing is that these fish are on par with the blackest black that science has produced yet, called vantablack.
The pigment cells in the skin were found to be very closely packed, and there were only a few gaps, if any at all. The ultra-black skin was also found in interesting places; for example, in one species, it was found around the gut, presumably to hide the light from a bioluminescent prey inside its tummy.
The fact that nature can produce such a high order of blackness in different places proves that evolution is a fantastic continuous process which needs to be understood to make sense of all the things in the natural world.