The Most Beautiful Animal You’ve Never Seen

Sea Sapphire
Written by Wendy Aburto

The ocean is full of the most amazing and odd creatures on this planet. This mysterious spectacle, the sea sapphire looks like something from Lord of the Rings; it flashes brilliant colors and then seemingly vanishes. Gentlemen, you won’t find this at Jared. They have, however, been deemed the most beautiful animal you have never seen.

You may discover these ant-sized crustaceans known formally as Sapphire copepods, swimming in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. More commonly known as the sea sapphire, their shimmering beauty is both complex and mysterious. It is only the males that display the striking iridescent colors. This results when light bounces off of the thin, hexagonal crystal plates that cover their backs. Scientists believe that the colors play roles in communication and mate recognition, so it appears the male sea sapphires put a little show for the ladies!

Researchers have discovered it is the light reflectance that determines its color, and this is dependant on the spacing between the crystal layers. These layers are microscopic and arranged in a honey-comb like pattern, which help them pull off this optical trick. The animal appears to vanish when they are hit by light at a 45-degree angle; this causes the reflectance to shift out of the visible light range and into the ultraviolet. Honestly, this is all very confusing, and I prefer the Lord of the Rings, ring of power theory or maybe my husband is correct in that aliens have indeed inhabited this planet.


Scientists seemed to be pretty enthralled with these crustaceans; they believe the results of their findings could help them design artificial photonic crystal structures, which could be used in reflective coatings, optical mirrors and optical displays. Personally, I think they are just super cool to look at, and will enjoy their awesomeness without all that “sciencey” stuff.


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Wendy Aburto

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