10 Amazing Transparent Animals

March 1, 2013 10:10 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

There are ghosts currently wandering the planet, but they aren’t the undead apparitions of your imagination.

Transparent animals — creatures with transparent, glass-like skin — can be found lurking in abundance in ecosystems around the globe. These fascinating, verging-on-invisible organisms are the tangible ghosts of the real world. Here is our list of world’s most amazing transparent animals:

1. Ghost (Glass) Shrimp

The official common name for this species is the Grass Shrimp and its scientific name is Palaemonetes paludosus. It has many other names including Ghost Shrimp, Glass Shrimp, Freshwater River Shrimp and others. The semi-translucent shells of these minuscule crustaceans make them nearly as transparent as the glass aquariums in which they are sometimes kept. In the wild, different species can be found in rivers and lakes throughout the world. The animal is so clear in appearance that it only has color of the food it has eaten, which is typically plant-based and, therefore, usually green. Their feeding habit makes them great cleaners if kept in an aquarium. Remember that this is a natural food source in the wild so any predatory fish will definitely devour them fast.

Ghost (Glass) Shrimp

Ghost (Glass) Shrimp

Glasswing Butterfly

Glasswing Butterfly

2. Glasswing Butterfly
The common English name for this remarkable butterfly is glasswing, which in itself speaks volumes about the appearance of this small but unusual insect. However, it takes the romance languages to step in and give the butterfly the name which, for many, suits it best. The Spanish name for the glasswing is ‘espejitos’. Literally translated, this means little mirrors.

Adult glasswing butterflies will often migrate great distances and can travel more than 12 miles a day.

3. Tortoise Shell Beetle
This remarkable beetle is not completely transparent, but it does have a carapace that is nearly invisible. The tortoise shell beetle is a fraud. At least, that’s how it presents itself in the wild, where it boasts beautiful colors but ones laid just below a transparent shell. The beetle’s clear carapace aims to fool potential threats while revealing markings on its back that act as a warning to predators.

Tortoise beetles come in many different varieties, and the design under their clear shells can be distinct and beautiful.

Tortoise Shell Beetle

Tortoise Shell Beetle

Barreleye a.k.a Spook Fish

Barreleye a.k.a Spook Fish

4. Barreleye a.k.a Spook Fish
These deep-sea fishes are found in water as deep as 3330 ft (1015 m). The barreleye has a completely transparent head. The purpose of the transparent head is that its eyes, which are located inside the head, can look straight up as it swims, presumably so that it can detect the silhouettes of available prey. Its eyes can rotate within the socket so that the fish can look in multiple directions, which would be impossible if not for the transparent cranium.

5. Transparent Sea Cucumber
Census of Marine Life researchers discovered this unusual transparent sea cucumber (Enypniastes sp.) in the Gulf of Mexico. When encountered, this cucumber was creeping forward on its many tentacles at about 2 centimeters per minute while sweeping detritus-rich sediment into its mouth.

Transparent Sea Cucumber

Transparent Sea Cucumber

Salp

Salp

6. Salp
Many people have never heard of salps until they come across them when they are in one of many oceans around the world. A salp is an unusual looking creature that is a free floating tunicate and is barrel shaped. The creature is able to move by pumping water through its body, which is jelly like. When the salp pumps the water through its body it strains it and feeds on the phytoplankton that is in the water. These tunicates are quite interesting to look at because of the simple yet complex way that they move through the water and feed at the same time.

7. Glass Frog
The glass frog is one of those bizarre and fascinating creatures in this world. Upon looking down at this amphibian, the first thing you might notice is its soft lime-green color. But if you were to turn it over, a quick glance at its abdomen would catch your attention. The glass frog’s stomach is completely transparent! Close examination of this unique creature reveals a fully visible system of organs, including the heart, liver, and full intestinal tract. Scientists believe that earlier frogs of this species evolved to have this trait for camouflage; while perched on a leaf or branch, they are extremely difficult to spot from a distance.

Found in the jungles of Central and South America, these animals are mostly arboreal, meaning they live primarily in trees.

Glass Frog

Glass Frog

Jellyfish

Jellyfish

8. Jellyfish
Perhaps the most well-known types of transparent creatures are jellyfish. Many of the free-swimming members of the phylum Cnidaria are transparent, a trait that makes them occasionally hazardous because of their sometimes deadly stings, which can surprise swimmers.
Another fascinating fact about jellyfish is that they don’t have any brain, heart, or bones. Some jellyfish have ways of detecting obstacles that can be compared to sight but they don’t have real eyes. It is a mystery how they can process the information from their “sight” since they doesn’t have any brain. They react directly on food and danger stimuli via nerve impulses without having any brain to process the impulses. Another fact about jellyfish and their bodies is that the body consists of over 95% water. Their translucent bodies also make them among the most elegant and beautiful of the ocean’s creatures.

9. Glass Squid
It’s a barrel-shaped squid whose rough surface is covered with star-shaped protuberances. It has fourteen luminous spots around its large eyes, which are actually organs called photophores. Transparency keeps them hidden from predators, since they spend much of their lives in partially sunlit shallow waters. This species keeps a special fluid, lighter than salt water, in its rounded body to aid buoyancy. Since the digestive gland can still be seen through the transparent skin, it is typically held in a vertical position to reduce its visibility.

Glass Squid

Glass Squid

Crocodile Icefish

Crocodile Icefish

10. Crocodile Icefish
Found in the cold waters around Antarctica and southern South America, the crocodile icefish (Channichthyidae) feed on krill, copepods, and other fish. Their blood is transparent because they have no hemoglobin and/or only defunct erythrocytes. Their metabolism relies only on the oxygen dissolved in the liquid blood, which is believed to be absorbed directly through the skin from the water.

They survive without hemoglobin thanks to the subzero temperatures of the ocean where they live, since cold water has a much higher dissolved oxygen content than warmer water.

As we have seen, the vast majority of transparent creatures live in the sea – see-through butterflies, crayfish and frogs are much less common. Will scientists pursue the lines of experimentation that brought about transparent goldfish and frogs to their logical conclusion? Time will tell… and some day we may end up questioning the old maxim, “beauty is only skin deep”.

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This post was written by Editorial Staff

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