Scientists Discover Ultra-Black Deep-Sea Creatures

By: | July 19th, 2020

Idiacanthus antrostomas, better known as the pacific blackdragon. (Karen Osborn/Smithsonian)

Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the planet’s surface. Oceans drive our weather, regulate temperature and ultimately support all living organisms.

But still we know very less about oceans…more than 80% of it remains unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored.

Deepest depths of oceans are pitch-dark, with freezing cold water and very high pressure.  In these dark deep depths of oceans, scientists recently discovered the 16 new species of terrifying deep-sea fish.

All of these species are ultra-black fish that hardly reflect light that hits their skin, much like ultra-black Vantablack material

Their skin absorbs more than 99.5% percent of light. These species have developed special skin characteristics to help them to evade detection while hunting or hiding in the dark.

Marine biologist Karen Osborn, co-author of this paper was surprised when she attempted to take pictures of these fish.

Osborn, said, “I had tried to take pictures of deep-sea fish before and got nothing but these really horrible pictures, where you can’t see any detail,” “How is it that I can shine two strobe lights at them and all that light just disappears?”

She added, “It didn’t matter how you set up the camera or lighting—they just sucked up all the light,” 

Lead author Alexander Davis, a Duke University biologist, said, “It’s like looking at a black hole,”

How these fish manage to soak up light so effectively

For investigating this, the team closely examined the specimens. They found these fish have Special layers of melanosomes, tiny cellular structures stuffed with melanin. Melanin is a light-absorbing pigment that colors human skin to various degrees.

Osborn said, “Mimicking this strategy could help engineers develop less expensive, flexible and more durable ultra-black materials for use in optical technology, such as telescopes and cameras, and for camouflage.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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