From gelatinous jellyfish to see-through wings, here are 11 of the most amazing transparent animals in the world!
- Standard Jellyfish
The most common and well-known transparent animal is most likely the jellyfish. There are thousands of species of jellyfish in the world of different shapes, sizes and colors. Of course, most of those species are transparent. A jellyfish uses its skin to protect itself. Inside, it has a “bag of jelly” that is 94% water and that’s about it. It doesn’t have a heart, brain, or bones. The jelly – or its flesh so to speak – is held together by muscle fibers that wind through its body. The jellyfish’s stomach is hollow and leads directly to its mouth. It may be disturbing to hear, but its food passes through its mouth as it eats, but also, considering it is the only hole in the body, it also passes through its mouth while being digested. They also use their mouth to swim as they swallow water and spit it out to propel themselves. One of the most recognizably clear is the box jellyfish, or Chironex fleckeri, which is nearly invisible in the water.
- Glass Frog
The derivation of the glass frog’s name is fairly obvious. As you can see, the glass frog has a completely translucent stomach. Although its stomach is clear, the rest of the glass frog is usually bright green or olive green in color and covered with with black, white, blue or green spots. Through its clear stomach, however, you can see the liver, heart and intestines. When you aren’t looking at them from the bottom, glass frogs look very similar to tree frogs, except for the fact that their eyes are facing forward whereas a tree frog’s are on the sides of its head. During mating season, females can be seen with eggs inside their bellies, and will soon drop them off on overhanging branches above water, allowing the tadpole’s easy access upon hatching. Once the eggs are laid, the eggs are watched over by the father. In the wild, glass frogs can live up to 15 years. It is legal to keep them as pets in many regions, but it is not recommended unless you are an expert and can provide them with the delicate environment they require.
- Glasswinged Butterfly
The name glasswing speaks volumes as to the appearance of this little known butterfly. The glasswinged butterfly or greta oto, may be beautiful in appearance, but they are also actually a bizarre exception to natural law. The tissue between the veins of its wings looks like glass, as it lacks the colored scales found in other butterflies. As you can see the glassing has transparent wings outlined by orange or brown. Transparency in nature is not something that has been very well understood. In order to achieve transparency the tissue must not absorb light or reflect light. The wings of the glasswing must have the same refractive index all the way through them in order for transparency to occur. This lack of light comes in handy, as the clear wings of the butterfly protect it from predators. The glasswing is one especially strong species of butterfly. Although it might look weak, it has the ability to carry nearly 40 times its own weight. It is also very fast, with the ability to fly up to eight miles per hour for short periods of time.
Chaetognatha, or arrow worms, are a phylum of marine worms which make up most of the plankton around the world. Most arrow worms are transparent/translucent and torpedo shaped, although some can be orange. They are pretty small too, the largest arrow worms hardly reach 5 inches. The animals are covered by cuticle, a protective layer covering its skin. Each worm has a head, trunk, and tail, as well as a number of spines, which are used for hunting, on each side of their head. They also have a mouth with rows of tiny teeth and a nervous system but are in no need of a respiratory system. When they eat food, normally other plankton, it passes through a straight intestine that runs the length of its trunk and eventually leaves the body this way, although some of the waste simply secretes through the skin. Arrow worms still mate with other arrow worms even though they have no gender and all of them carry both both male and female reproductive organs.
- Ghost Shrimp
Ghost shrimp, also known as glass shrimp are excellent scavengers and many people keep them in their aquariums to help feed their lionfish or baby sharks. One of the most common is the grass shrimp. To tell the difference between a male and female grass shrimp, you may notice that the female grass shrimp almost always have a green saddle or eggs underneath the belly. When not carrying eggs, the females have a very pronounced ridge whereas the males do not. Often, grass shrimp will burrow in the underwater sand to feed. Although it can only reach a couple of inches in length, it can use its claws to bury itself up to 3 feet under. As it burrows, it throws the mud backward in a receptacle with its legs. When full, the shrimp crawls to the top and deposits it. The shrimp uses each and every one of its legs differently. When the shrimp are not burrowing, they revert to cleaning themselves and they can never sit still!
- Sea Angel
The name may be majestic, and well…so is the sea angel. You won’t guess it from looking at this beautiful creature, but sea angels are actually swimming sea slugs. Related to snails, unlike most of its class, they have no shell and the feet of this creature are wing-like flapping appendages. Sea angels are gelatinous, mostly transparent, and very small. Some species of sea angels are very picky as they feed only on sea butterflies. To eat, they use tentacles to capture their prey and terminal radula mouth for feeding. They are known for their special structure that allows them to “fly” through the water faster than most creatures its size can swim. Larger sea angels secrete a chemical that deter larger predators. There is no male or female sea angel, rather a gelatinous egg mass is released during spawning, and the eggs float freely until hatching.