Nature has numerous mysterious and weird aspects that sometimes are beyond human research and imagination. With so many components like animals and plants comprising it, the mysterious things about nature are vast. There are many discoveries made by researchers about strange aspects of the wildlife, and one such discovery was made by scientists at the Field Museum in Chicago in US, observing the species of the South African springhare, which is a large and unusual rodent. The scientists observed springhares’ specimens in captivity and museums, and they found some incredible glowing skills of these springhares. These aspects are considerably more intense and diverse compared to other mammals having the ability to glow.

Biofluorescence is the ability of a living organism to absorb shorter light wavelengths or blue light wavelengths and reproduce them as longer light wavelengths, and in the case of the springhare, it is pink or orange. Significantly, the aspect is distinct from bioluminescence, which allows the living organism to glow in the dark via chemical reactions occurring in their biological appearance. It was known to occur mostly in reptiles, invertebrates, amphibians, birds, fish, but researchers have recently initiated to discover the ability in crepuscular or nocturnal mammals such as springhares, flying squirrels, and platypuses. Springhares are small rodents with powerful back legs that allow them to jump similarly to kangaroos, falling right into their category. Researchers stumbled across the springhare species’ ability to shift colors while trying to observe biofluorescence in flying squirrels and other flying mammals. The lead author behind the study, Erik R. Olson explained that they first attempted looking for the phenomenon in crusty-tailed squirrels, which did not exhibit the trait, and then moved on to a drawer section containing relatives to the springhares.

According to the research, biofluorescence in springhares are produced by organic compounds named porphyrins on their fur and the pinkish glow showed by the springhares possibly derive from variations of porphyrin named coproporphyrin and uroporphyrin. Biofluorescence stemming from the presence of porphyrin has been documented in the past in some marine animals and birds, but as mentioned, the trait has been observed more regularly in some mammals over recent years. Erik Olson told Live Science, “We saw this pinkish-orange biofluorescence in the drawers, and that was an exciting moment. Seeing something like this, probably for the first time, really stoked the fires of curiosity”. The biofluorescence was primarily observed similarly in both male and female springhares, although the glowing patterns were largely unequal from a specimen, with some of them having certainly unbalanced instances. As to what drives such a trait serves, researchers have assumed in the past, that biofluorescence might be a mode for some creatures to camouflage themselves against predators with certain ultraviolet (UV) sensitivity levels, as a form of intraspecies communication, or even as a mating mechanism.

The research has recommended that springhares are vastly unsocial and these animals tend to feed in more open zones with scarce vegetation and, therefore, they have a large exposure to the predators due to the lack of shelter or group attentiveness. And therefore, the scientists suggested that the unevenness of biofluorescence in springhares could be used as a camouflage, but it would work on the UV sensitivity of their predators. However, the scientists barely know so much about the importance of biofluorescent capacities in mammals, but can guess that the feature may be more widespread among animals active in low-light environments than initially thought, and eventually the researchers might discover a more significant and distinct usage for the species of these glowing rodents.