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Are There Other Animals that Glow Under a Black Light Besides Scorpions?

based on 24 ratings
Author: Michael Calhoun

Grade Level: 4th - 6th; Type: Life Science

Objective:

Scorpions fluoresce or glow under ultra-violate (UV) light turning a teal green so they are easy to find with the aid of a Black light during the night. The research aspect of this science fair project is to determine which other common animals will glow under a UV Black light.

  • What is the project about?
  • What are the goals?

    A Black light is the name given to a lamp emitting UV radiation and very little visible light. Ultraviolet radiation itself is invisible, but illuminating certain materials with UV radiation prompts the visible effects of fluorescence and phosphorescence. Scorpions glow or fluoresce under UV light. Along with a scorpion, crayfish, centipede, millipede, and a cricket will be placed under a Black light to see if like the scorpion they too will show fluorescence. From the results of the investigation a data table will be prepared and a graph plotted.

Research Questions:

  • What is UV light?
  • What is a Black light?
  • Are there other animals that glow under a black light besides scorpions?
  • Which of the animals tested glowed under UV light?
  • Of the animals tested which one(s) did not glow under the Black light?
  • What was the control for this investigation?

Ultraviolet radiation (also known as UV radiation, UV light or ultraviolet rays) is a form of energy traveling through space. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is defined as that portion of the electromagnetic spectrum between X-rays and visible light. The Sun is the primary natural source of UV radiation. Artificial sources include black lights. A black light is the name commonly given to a lamp emitting almost entirely UV radiation and very little visible light. Ultraviolet radiation itself is invisible, but illuminating certain materials with UV radiation prompts the visible effects of fluorescence and phosphorescence.

Scorpions fluoresce because they contain a fluorescent protein in the hyaline layer of their exoskeleton. The hyaline layer of the cuticle is very tough. It is often found in scorpion fossils. Even after hundreds of millions of years, while all the other layers of the cuticle have been lost, this hyaline layer remains embedded in fossil rocks and still fluoresces. The fluorescence is thought by scientists to serve as an ultraviolet sensitivity mechanism, perhaps allowing the scorpion to avoid damaging light levels. Scorpions cannot see ultraviolet light.

Other animals that fluoresce include crayfish, centipedes, and millipedes. Many centipedes species glow under UV light to some degree, especially the terminal legs and often the antennae.

Any required diagrams/pictures (Pictures speak a thousand words!)

Digital photos can be taken during the experimenting process also the following sites offer down loadable images that can be used on the display board:

http://www.rei.com/skuimage/686100/220

http://fireflyforest.net/images/firefly/2006/November/fluorescent-scorpion.jpg

http://www.ecopolis.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/cloned-cat.jpg

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