Why are there more transparent aquatic animals than terrestrial animals?

A Quora question: Why are there more transparent animals in water than land?

The link goes to Gary Meaney’s answer, which is long, detailed, features many neat pictures, and is just overall really fun.

If you’re ever on Quora, then you ought to be following Gary Meaney. All his answers are delightful. His book is also delightful. I don’t know of anyone else who routinely says things about animals that I didn’t know.

As you can see in the photo below, the most conspicuous feature of the frog is its blood, which absorbs lots of light, and contrasts sharply against the rest of the body. So, if a glass frog is in trouble, it pulls out its trump card – it hides its blood!

During the day when it’s vulnerable, the amphibian pumps 90% of the red blood cells in its body into its tiny liver, radically increasing its transparency. Any other animal would suffer traumatic blood clots if it stored much more than 10% of it blood in such a small area! How does the glass frog survive this? As of today, we have no idea

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1 thought on “Why are there more transparent aquatic animals than terrestrial animals?”

  1. Certainly if I had to guess, I’d say the risk of reflection of a surface of different, particularly higher index of refraction. But I would not have guessed there were land (or air!) animals that escaped this problem. That spectacular butterfly! Sphinx moths have nothing on them.

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