ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Transparent Animals

Updated on November 14, 2016


Many species of animal are naturally transparent. However this hub is part of my collection of pages on unusual morphs of mutant forms of animals--animals that are different from what is usual for this species. Thus. this list will focusses mainly on animals who are members of species and sub-species that are not usually transparent..

A requirement to produce a transparent mutant is that the animal have no innately opaque structural elements between their skin and their internal organs. For this reason most examples come from the realms of fish and amphibians as these species lack opaque fat or protein fibres between their skin and organs. Mammalian examples are less extreme or possible only after post-mortem processing.

In Nature

Transparent "morphs" arise spontaneously, typically from a mutation or inbreeding producing a number of animals that do not produce normal pigments. In some cases these animals gain an advantage from their state, such as transparent daphnia which are harder for predators to see. These morphs may also be selective bred for human purposes.

Transparent Fish

In 2008 a transparent zebra fish was developed (shown right). Colloquially referred to as 'caspers' these fish are used to study the development of cancer within the body. Even normal zebra fish larva are extremely transparent and are used in research into the formation of blood cells and the development of obesity. The transparent line retains this qualities into adulthood. A transparent guppy has been developed for similar applications.

There is also a transparent breed of goldfish, developed as a method of showing internal organs to students without the need for dissection. The line of ryukin was developed by selecting and breeding together fish with little or no pigment that occurred spontaneously in a large breeding population. There is not only an ethical advantage to using the fish (not needing to kill animals to see their organs), but the organs can be seen in their operation state and it is also considerably cheaper as each animal can be observed/reused many times.

See also:


Researchers at Hiroshima University developed a transparent frog (shown right), also for the purposes of anatomical instruction. The frog is see-through throughout its life from tadpole to frog, allowing literal insight into the developmental stages of an amphibian. The see through frog was selectively bred from specimens of Rana japonica.

A natural occurring transparent frog (the Glass Frog) was also recently discovered in Ecuador.


Many insects are partially transperant.  One dramatic example is the glasswing butterfly (right).

Artificially Created

Deceased specimens can be prepared to selectively reveal body structures. Japanese researchers created a process that makes the skin of a mouse completely translucent. And New World Transparent Specimen is one company that dissolves the proteins in animal specimens and reveals bones and other structures that are highlighted with dyes. Another reagent that has a similar effect is called Sca/e.


Transparency can also be used to get a good look at animals that are usual hidden from sight. Such as this hermit crab in a glass shell.

Also film or photgraphy taken under infrared can produce an illusion of skin transparency by increasing the visibility of structures such as veins under the skin.

The Transparent Man

While a mammal will never be truly transparent some conditions do greatly increase the translucency of the body and allow some ability to view internal organs. One such example is Count Orloff who was subject to a debilitating wasting disease and resorted to making an income as a side show exhibit. Due to the extreme wasting of his muscles and bones, a bright light could pass Orloff's body, illuminating the blood flowing through his veins.


  • Gliwicz, Z. Maciej, Wayne A. Wursbaugh, and Ewa Szymanska. "Absence of predation eliminates coexistence: experience from the fish–zooplankton interface." Hydrobiologia 653, no. 1 (2010): 103-117.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • fucsia profile image


      8 years ago

      The frog is really interesting and beauty!

      The count instead ..... I had never heard of him ....

      Thanks for sharing


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)