Naturalists in antiquity worked hard to dispel fanciful ideas about the meaning of living lights, but remained bewildered by them. Even Charles Darwin was perplexed by the chaotic diversity of luminous organisms, which he found difficult to reconcile with his evolutionary theory. It fell to naturalists and scientists to make sense of the dazzling displays of fireflies and other organisms. In Luminous Creatures Michel Anctil shows how mythical perceptions of bioluminescence gradually gave way to a scientific understanding of its mech- anisms, functions, and evolution, and to the recog- nition of its usefulness for biomedical and other applied fields. Following the rise of the modern scientific method and the circumnavigations and oceano- graphic expeditions of the eighteenth and nine- teenth centuries, biologists began to realize the diversity of bioluminescence’s expressions in light organs and ecological imprints, and how wide- spread it is on the planet. By the end of the nine- teenth century an understanding of the chemical nature and physiological control of the phenome- non was at hand. Technological developments led to an explosion of knowledge on the ecology, evo- lution, and molecular biology of bioluminescence. Luminous Creatures tracks these historical events and illuminates the lives and the trail- blazing accomplishments of the scientists involved. It offers a unique window into the awe-inspiring, phantasmagorical world of light-producing organ- isms, viewed from the perspectives of casual observers and scientists alike. Michel Anctil is honorary professor of biology at Université de Montréal and author of Dawn of the Neuron: The Early Struggles to Trace the Origin of Nervous Systems. 1 3 M Q U P S P R I N G 2 0 1 8 N AT U R A L H I S T O R Y Luminous Creatures The History and Science of Light Production in Living Organisms michel anctil How a striking phenomenon people have observed for millennia became a field of scientific inquiry and revolutionized molecular biology and medical research. S P E C I F I C AT I O N S May 2018 978-0-7735-5312-5 $49.95A CDN, $49.95A US, £41.00 cloth 6 x 9 488pp 56 photos eBook available