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10 April 2023 Photoluminescence in mammal fur: 111 years of research
Linda M. Reinhold, Tasmin L. Rymer, Kristofer M. Helgen, David T. Wilson
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Photoluminescence in the pelage of mammals, a topic that has gained considerable recent research interest, was first documented in the 1700s and reported sporadically in the literature over the last century. The first detailed species accounts were of rabbits and humans, published 111 years ago in 1911. Recent studies have largely overlooked this earlier research into photoluminescent mammalian taxa and their luminophores. Here we provide a comprehensive update on existing research on photoluminescence in mammal fur, with the intention of drawing attention to earlier pioneering research in this field. We provide an overview on appropriate terminology, explain the physics of photoluminescence, and explore pigmentation and the ubiquitous photoluminescence of animal tissues, before touching on the emerging debate regarding visual function. We then provide a chronological account of research into mammalian fur photoluminescence, from the earliest discoveries and identification of luminophores to the most recent studies. While all mammal fur is likely to have a general low-level photoluminescence due to the presence of the protein keratin, fur glows luminously under ultraviolet light if it contains significant concentrations of tryptophan metabolites or porphyrins. Finally, we briefly discuss issues associated with preserved museum specimens in studies of photoluminescence. The study of mammal fur photoluminescence has a substantial history, which provides a broad foundation on which future studies can be grounded.

Linda M. Reinhold, Tasmin L. Rymer, Kristofer M. Helgen, and David T. Wilson "Photoluminescence in mammal fur: 111 years of research," Journal of Mammalogy 104(4), 892-906, (10 April 2023).
Received: 16 June 2022; Accepted: 16 January 2023; Published: 10 April 2023
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