The Eight-Legged Flashlight

Posted by on Mar 11, 2011 in Articles | 0 comments

Certainly Stauroteuthis syrtensis, a little baseball-sized octopus, takes first place in the talent show of intelligent design.  It is the first of its kind to be found in the ocean depths flaunting glow-in-the-dark legs.

This particular octopus has bioluminescent organs, similar to suckers that emit an eerie blue-green glow to attract its dinner.  Sea creatures living above it have a diet that includes an abundance of light-generating microbes.  These become luminescent as they drift down in fecal material to the blackness below.  This material is a delicacy for many of the deeper dwelling creatures, attracting swarms of tiny ocean critters with its inviting flow.  So, the bioluminescent legs of the octopus serve to lure in a feast of tiny crustaceans eager for a meal.  They are then trapped in mucus emitted by the mouth of the octopus and enjoyed as the first course for this evening meal.

The light emitted from the tentacles is able to travel in water better than almost any other.  Unlike the common fifty-watt bulb, it is almost 100% efficient producing much more light then it does heat.

In a Science News article, John Travis discusses some medical uses for bioluminescent genes.  He states that “Salmonella bacteria was genetically engineered to emit light…”  This was done for the purpose of tracking the effects of new drugs and treatments or for that of tracking the spread of certain infections – possibly even cancer cells.  This could be extremely helpful in giving those in the medical field an “inside-out” view of tumor growth, and the spread of infections such as HIV without having to examine individual tissues outside of the body.  In summary, this amazing bioluminescent substance, produced by the enzyme luciferase, could act as a flashlight to illuminate a whole new field for medical science.

Some would attribute the bioluminescent feature of this deep-sea dweller to mutations and evolutionary adaptations.  Anyone looking closely at this incredible creature can see that numerous “in-between” stages from suckers to pinhole flashlights are needed.  This would require hundreds of perfect changes all taking place at exactly the right time in exactly the correct order in both male and female sexes for the population to survive.  This takes just as much faith to believe, if not more, than it does to believe that this incredible creature simply reveals the fingerprints of a creative God and his amazing design.


By Adriane Murray

  • Science News Online Octopus Suckers Glow in the Dark by; S. Milius
  • Science News Online Following the Inner Light, by; John Travis, 10/5/96
  • Answers in Genesis (web site) Octopus Suckers Glowing in the Dark by: Jonathan Sarfati, 1999

Originally published in the Summer 2004 issue of Think and Believe.

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