When a Victorian naturalist called Philip Henry Gosse tapped a glass jar containing a jellyfish called Aequorea, it shone with a spooky greenish-blue light. Today scientists have worked out how that bioluminescence is produced. They have discovered how to make this happen in other animals and plants by isolating the jellyfish gene that causes the glow and inserting it into other organisms. It's an accurate way of watching the inner workings of living cells. This new diagnostic tool is one of the most profound new developments in medical science. It will not only revolutionise the development of new drugs like antibiotics but it will impact on all branches of medicine from stem cell research to the treatment of cancer.
The electric ray stunned its audiences at dramatic shows staged by early anatomists and physiologists. Its electric organ has gone on to unlock the secrets of nervous transmission and develop the branch of science we now call neurophysiology.
The lowly leech, once the darling of the quack, is making a comeback as it's benefits in microsurgery become apparent.
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was a curiosity that captivated natural historians for hundreds of years.
It is now at the forefront of genetic developments that promise answers to some of the most tantalising evolutionary questions in biology today.
Genetics bows to the observations of the early natural historians and poets who pondered the flashing light of fireflies and the eerie beacon produced by the glow-worm.