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BOB HIRSHON (host):
Fish camouflage. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
The open ocean doesn’t provide many places to hide. Underwater, light is polarized—meaning light waves travel in the same plane—and many fish spot prey by detecting variations in polarized light. But University of Texas at Austin biologist Molly Cummings reports in the journal Science that some fish have evolved specialized skin cells that reflect polarized light, camouflaging them.
MOLLY CUMMINGS (University of Texas at Austin):
That suggests that natural selection is shaping the reflectance properties of these fish to minimize their detectability under viewing angles for survival.
Using a camera that detects polarized light, Cummings found that the fish were particularly disguised when viewed from angles by which predators normally approach. The discovery could inform better military strategies for hiding in open water. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.