This stunning animal looks like a glitch in reality's programming

It belongs to the genus Sapphirina, and its skin – which can flicker from brilliant blue to near-invisible in an instant – is something you truly need to see to believe.

Deep Sea News' Rebecca Helm calls it "the most beautiful animal you've never seen." The tiny marine crustaceans have shimmering, crystalline skin that derives its iridescence from a single layer of microscopic, hexagonal plates that reflect only certain wavelengths of light. Helm – who's been been lucky enough to encounter one in its natural environment – has more details on the animal she calls a "sea sapphire":

In the case of blue sea sapphires, these crystal layers are separated by only about four ten thousandths of a millimeter; about the same distance as a wavelength of blue light. When blue light bounces off these crystal layers, it is perfectly preserved and reflected. But for other colors of light, these small differences in distance interfere, causing the colors to cancel out. So while white light is composed of all colors, only blue light is reflected back. This type of coloration is known as structural coloration, and though resembling a gem in hue, a sea sapphire's color has more in common with an oil sheen than a pigmented jewel. Combine this nifty trick with the sea sapphire's impressively transparent body, and you have an animal as radiant as a star in one moment, and invisible in the next.

Read more about these incredible creatures over at Deep Sea News.