10 Transparent Animals You Won't Believe Exist

By Victoria Simpson on June 23 2020 in Environment

Salps planktonic tunicate underwater in the Mediterranean sea, Cabo de Gata-Níjar natural park, Almeria, Andalusia, Spain. Image credit: Damsea/Shutterstock.com
Salps planktonic tunicate underwater in the Mediterranean sea, Cabo de Gata-Níjar natural park, Almeria, Andalusia, Spain. Image credit: Damsea/Shutterstock.com
  • The transparent immortal jellyfish can return to a state of sexual maturity after reaching adulthood, and as such is only animal that can
  • Ghost shrimp are scavengers that will eat leftover food on the bottom of your aquarium, but they do not like things to be too clean or they will starve.
  • The deep sea angler fish is one of the ugliest creatures on the planet, and lives in the dark layers of the ocean.

You have probably heard much about the powers of evolution that allow animals to blend into their environment via developing colors, stripes, spots and patterns that provide them with natural camouflage. What about becoming entirely see-through, however? Transparent animals have also evolved in response to their environment, and are literally hiding from their prey in plain sight. From butterflies to fish, frogs, snails and more, nature’s transparency can be found in the skies, and down into the deep dark sea. Most often transparent characteristics arise in these animals when they are young, and can disappear by adulthood, but some keep their transparency for life. 

Here are ten animals that are beautifully, almost magically, transparent. Check it out. 

10. Glasswinged Butterfly

A Glasswinged Butterfly. Image credit: MichelleCoppiens/Shutterstock.com
A Glasswinged Butterfly. Image credit: MichelleCoppiens/Shutterstock.com

Native to Central America, the glasswinged butterfly (Greta oto)  looks very much as though it has sections of glass in its wings, like a colourless stained-glass window. The tips of this butterfly's wings hold some color, but the rest are clear.

Due to the wings nanoscale structure, the wings of this butterfly do not reflect light as you might think. According to BBC.com, this structure consists of a “chaotic” arrangement of differently-sized and shaped pillar-like structures. The wings are so effective it is said their construction could provide inspiration for the future construction of glare-free computer and cellphone screens.

9. Transparent Juvenile Surgeonfish

This fish looks like something you might win at the local town fair “fishing” in the “fish pond” game but it is real. The transparent Juvenile Surgeonfish lives in waters around New Zealand and can actually grow to be quite big, reaching 30 cm. The fish is only fully transparent when it is young, and later develops its signature blue and yellow markings.

8. Tortoise Shell Beetles

Tortoise Shell Beetles. Image credit: SIMON SHIM/Shutterstock.com
Tortoise Shell Beetles. Image credit: SIMON SHIM/Shutterstock.com

These bugs come in many different varieties and some, like the clavate tortoise beetle (Plagiometriona clavata) of the eastern and southern United States, have a solid colored interior surrounded by a transparent casing. This beetle resembles a turtle on a tiny scale because of the casing on its back, and measures between  5 and 12 mm (less than 0.5 inch) in length.

In tropical environments, tortoise shell beetles are very brightly colored, so much so that people use them to make jewelry. These beetles also live in many places across eastern North America up to Iowa and Texas. If you have a garden with sweet potato, argus, cabbage, corn, or strawberries, you may have seen this insect before and know how much they love to destroy plants by munching on them.

The tortoise shell beetle has many strange habits, one of which is carrying its feces in an umbrella made of its molted skin above it, as camouflage. 

7. European Eel Larvae

European Eel Larvae. Image credit: Wikimedia.org
European Eel Larvae. Image credit: Wikimedia.org

As adults, the European eel lives in estuaries and rivers in Europe, and swims back to the Sargasso Sea around Bermuda to lay its eggs. As a larvae, it is transparent and uses the Gulf Stream currents to get all the way back to Europe. Because it can be so easy for predatory fish to catch these young eels on their long journey, they are transparent until mature. Unfortunately, this eel’s numbers have been in decline over the past 45 years, and the number of European eels that actually make it to Europe has dropped by 90%.

6. Juvenile Octopus

A juvenile octopus in water. Image credit: Shpatak/Shutterstock.com
A juvenile octopus in water. Image credit: Shpatak/Shutterstock.com

A young octopus is pretty small, measuringless than one inch across (2 cm). Like other animals on this list, some are transparent when young, and become a solid color as an adult. Amazingly, a young octopus is said to increase its weight by 5% each day, growing rapidly.

The common octopus lives to be only about three to five years old in the wild, and the female octopus dies shortly after her eggs hatch. The father dies before this, soon after mating.

5. Translucent Snail

A transparent snail. Image credit: J. Bedek, Alexander M. Weigand/Wikimedia.org
A transparent snail. Image credit: J. Bedek, Alexander M. Weigand/Wikimedia.org

There are a few different translucent snails on Earth one of which was recently discovered living in a deep cave system in Croatia, about half a mile (1 km) underground. This snail belongs to the genus Zospeum, and prefers to live in muddy environments, near running water. They are not thought to be able to move very well on their own, and may rely on the moving water to transport themselves from one place to another, or they may hitch a ride on larger mammals.

4. Transparent Immortal Jellyfish

An transparent jellyfish. Image credit: Rebecca Schreiner/Shutterstock.com
An transparent jellyfish. Image credit: Rebecca Schreiner/Shutterstock.com

This beautiful jelly fish with many reaching tentacles travels around the globe in the ballast tanks of cargo ships. It is the only animal on the planet that is seemingly immortal, and can return to a sexually immature state once again after already reaching maturity. These jelly fish also only have one hole in their body through which they both eat and release waste.

Tiny but well-made, these creatures are said to be the most efficient swimmers in the ocean, expending little energy to go far.

3. Juvenile Cowfish

Juvenile Cowfish. Image credit: Maia Valenzuela/Shutterstock.com
Juvenile Cowfish. Image credit: Maia Valenzuela/Shutterstock.com

The juvenile cowfish lives off the coast of Kona, Hawaii and can also be found in other tropical and temperate waters in the Indo-West and Central Pacific regions. When young, this fish is also called the transparent boxfish. Not only is this fish transparent, but it has two short horns above its eyes, giving it a cartoonish yet captivating look. When the juvenile cowfish matures, it loses its transparency, and can become a pale greenish-grey color.

2. Ghost Shrimp

Ghost Shrimp. Image credit: KT photo/Shutterstock.com
Ghost Shrimp. Image credit: KT photo/Shutterstock.com

Inexpensive and easy to keep, the ghost shrimp is a common crustacean in many aquariums. These animals will do a great job of keeping your aquarium clean, while scavenging for leftover food on the bottom. These shrimp like warm tropical waters, and can live for up to two years.

1. Deep Sea Anglerfish

Deep Sea Anglerfish. Image credit: Neil Bromhall/Shutterstock.com
Deep Sea Anglerfish. Image credit: Neil Bromhall/Shutterstock.com

If you gravitate towards scary-looking monsters from the depths, this fish is for you. The deep sea anglerfish has a scary mouth full of sharp-looking teeth and large eyes, and has larvae that are transparent. In some adults, the teeth, fins, and tail are also transparent. This fish can move about so well it can actually swallow prey up to twice its own size

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