Most of what I know about the ocean I learned from watching Finding Nemo. But after walking through the Field Museum's latest exhibit "Creatures of the Light: Nature's Bioluminescence," I've come to learn that the computer-animated deep sea is a lot different from the menacing, aquatic underworld reality.
The ocean floor is a lot more intense and less inviting than Disney-Pixar would have you believe. At a depth in which natural light cannot penetrate, ominous looking creatures emit their own, turning the ocean floor into a trove of fang-toothed, floating iPhone screens.
After hearing a dog bark or cow moo, I can relate to a talking clown fish or surfing turtle. But it's hard for me to imagine a fish, insect or reptile producing its own light. Outside of the occasional firefly, it's a concept that very few human beings actually get to see live. And that's the appeal of "Creatures of Light," it shows animal life doing something we've never seen done in places we've never been.
I D+‘d my way through high school science, but the Field Museum does a great job of explaining the chemical reactions involved in making colonies of glowworms look like lit up pins at cosmic bowling. With iPads, larger-than-life recreations and interactive elements, the space appeals to grownup geeks and adolescent Charles Darwin's alike.
Around the final corner, there are dozens of jars containing real-life examples of some of the creatures featured in the exhibit. It's a bit gnarly, but bookends the exhibition rather poetically. You're greeted by the wonder of an eight-foot-tall firefly and exit with the reality of a penny-sized fish that all, rather amazingly, create their own light.
The exhibit is open now until January 5, 2014 and recommended for all ages. For more information on this exhibit and other from the Field Museum, click here.
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