These new species of biofluorescent fish are beautifully strange

Biofluorescence is what happens when an animal absorbs light, then throws it back out in a different color. It's one of the weirdest and most beautiful traits in the animal kingdom, but now we know it is not among the rarest. Scientists have just identified 180 new biofluorescent fish — and they look pretty amazing.

A study from the American Museum of Natural History, published in PLOS One yesterday, took a closer look at the phenomenon in the first full study to take a comprehensive look at the world of undersea biofluroescence. To catch the fish in the act of glowing, researchers had to undertake a series of deep-sea dives. The resulting photos are pretty gorgeous — but they're not the only endgame of the research. Scientists are also hoping that the fluorescent proteins used by the fish to create their glow might also be able to be turned into a tool for new biological research.

Take a gander at some of the best shots here:

These new species of biofluorescent fish are beautifully strange

These new species of biofluorescent fish are beautifully strange

These new species of biofluorescent fish are beautifully strange

These new species of biofluorescent fish are beautifully strange

These new species of biofluorescent fish are beautifully strange

These new species of biofluorescent fish are beautifully strange

These new species of biofluorescent fish are beautifully strange

These new species of biofluorescent fish are beautifully strange

These new species of biofluorescent fish are beautifully strange

Top image: biofluorescent surgeonfish (Acanthurus coeruleus, larval) AMNH

Other images: biofluorescent stonefish (Synanceia verrucosa) AMNH; Chain catshark: A green biofluorescent chain catshark; biofluorescent false moray eel (Kaupichthys brachychirus) AMNH; biofluorescent lizardfish (Saurida gracilis) AMNH; biofluorescent goby (Eviota sp.) AMNH; biofluorescent ray (Urobatis jamaicensis) AMNH; biofluorescent sole (Soleichthys heterorhinos) AMNH; Scorpionfish: A red fluorescing scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis papuensis) perched on red fluorescing algae at night in the Solomon Islands. PLOS ONE; Triplefin blennie: A triplefin blennie (Enneapterygius sp.) under white light (above) and blue light (below) AMNH/J. Sparks and D. Gruber