Thursday, February 21, 2013

Jawa Cockroach

These South American cockroaches by the name of Lucihormetica luckae glow under a fluorescent light.  The glowing is a result of a bioluminescent bacteria populating pits in the roaches shell, but what's more scientifically important is that they look exactly like Jawas, even right down to the little bandoliers.
Bioluminescence is thought to be rarer on land than in the sea and land-dwelling luminous creatures emerged on the planet more recently, with in the last 65 million years. But these cockroaches are different, they travelled here a long time ago from a galaxy far, far away.  An analysis of the roaches bioluminescence shows that they, and their cousin species, glow at the same wavelengths as a toxin-producing beetle that lives in their area to avoid getting picked off by predators.  So they have evolved to mimic a deadly neighbour, just like Mr Funny-shoes.
Unfortunately the only known specimen of the insect was collected in 1939 on the slopes of Ecuador’s Tungurahua volcano, and the site was damaged when the peak erupted in December 2010.  Although the fact that no specimens have been found in ages may be because they decided to return to Tattooine.

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