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Silvery Fish Knows How To Break Laws Of Physics
And Become Invisible To Predators

23 October, 2012

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MessageToEagle.com - Researchers studying small creatures and flying insects are often amazed over their capability to perform a great variety of different maneuvers and how they manage to avoid dangers and keep away from areas where they will be highly visible.

In our article we described an amazing, only a few inches long fish tirelessly working day and night to carve the circular ridges with its flapping fin.

Now, nature surprises us once again. Certain fish species break the law of physics to keep safe from predators and among them are silvery fish such as herring, sardine and sprat.



According to new research conducted by PhD student Tom Jordan and his supervisors Professor Julian Partridge and Dr Nicholas Roberts in Bristol's School of Biological Sciences, these silvery fish have overcome this basic law of reflection an adaptation that may help them evade predators.

Reflective surfaces polarize light, a phenomenon that fishermen or photographers overcome by using polarizing sunglasses or polarizing filters to cut our reflective glare.

Previously, it was thought that the fish's skin which contains "multilayer" arrangements of reflective guanine crystals would fully polarize light when reflected. As the light becomes polarized, there should be a drop in reflectivity.



The Bristol researchers found that the skin of sardines and herring contain not one but two types of guanine crystal each with different optical properties. By mixing these two types, the fish's skin doesn't polarize the reflected light and maintains its high reflectivity.

"We believe these species of fish have evolved this particular multilayer structure to help conceal them from predators, such as dolphin and tuna. These fish have found a way to maximize their reflectivity over all angles they are viewed from. This helps the fish best match the light environment of the open ocean, making them less likely to be seen," according to Dr Roberts.

As a result of this ability, the skin of silvery fish could hold the key to better optical devices.

"Many modern day optical devices such as LED lights and low loss optical fibres use these non-polarizing types of reflectors to improve efficiency. However, these man-made reflectors currently require the use of materials with specific optical properties that are not always ideal.

The mechanism that has evolved in fish overcomes this current design limitation and provides a new way to manufacture these non-polarizing reflectors," Tom Jordan said.

The study is published in Nature Photonics

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See also:
Remarkable Underwater Circles Made By A Small, Clever Fish

Exploding Lakes - Horrifying Natural Phenomena

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