Magazine article American Scientist

Hiding Where There Is No Place to Hide

Magazine article American Scientist

Hiding Where There Is No Place to Hide

Article excerpt

Most people never see one of Laura Bagge's favorite animals, a crustacean called Phronima that is nearly transparent to hide itself from predators in the open sea. Bagge finds them by looking for the one part of their body they can't camouflage- the four tiny black dots of the animals' eyes.

"My colleagues often joke that I can't be sure if I've actually caught one of the clear crustaceans in a jar because you can't see anything in there," she said.

Sigma Xi awarded Bagge, a Society member who recently received her PhD in biology from Duke University, funding from its Grants-in-Aid of Research program to support her study on seven species of transparent crustaceans called hyperiid amphipods. She published her research in Current Biology in 2016, and her work has been featured in the popular press, such as National Geographic.

She found these crustaceans carry an antireflective optical coating that may be made of living bacteria. …

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