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This Fish Can Turn its Eyes Into Flashlights

Photolocation is when a creatures harnesses sunlight through specialized organs to see how to get around. Three fish have this power: deep-sea dragonfishes, lanternfishes, and flashlight fishes. However, they can only do it when conditions are right, and it just happens. Now scientists have identified a species that can not only emit light to see, but can control when to use it.

But as new research published today Royal Society Open Science shows, there’s at least one other fish endowed with the powers of photolocation, namely Tripterygion delaisi, otherwise known as triplefin. Unlike the three aforementioned fish, however, triplefins can actually control when their eyes light up, and they redirect incoming sunlight using a different method. The Tuebingen University scientists who conducted the study aren’t sure if the on-demand headlights help the triplefin to catch prey (though they think it’s highly likely), saying further research is needed. But they’re fairly convinced that triplefin are capable of switching their eyes on when the need arises, a never-before-seen feature dubbed “controlled iris radiance.”

Controlled Iris Radiance would make a good band name, for sure, but it could also be the basis of a horror film. In this case, the triplefin fish are tiny, only a couple of inches long, and their prey is even tinier. Read more about the brilliant adaptation of the triplefin and its headlights at Gizmodo. 

(Image credit: Nico K. Michiels/Tuebingen University)

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