Magazine article Science News

Mantis Shrimp Flub Color Vision Test: Results Suggest Alternate Way of Detecting Wavelengths

Magazine article Science News

Mantis Shrimp Flub Color Vision Test: Results Suggest Alternate Way of Detecting Wavelengths

Article excerpt

A mantis shrimp, which has one of the most elaborate visual systems ever discovered, turns out to be pretty lousy at distinguishing one color from another.

The puzzling underachievement may mean that the mantis shrimp brain perceives color in a way new to science, said Hanne Thoen of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. She presented results from her ongoing study August 6.

The stalked eyes of mantis shrimp species that live in shallow water can have up to 16 kinds of photoreceptor cells, 12 of which are specialized for different colors, including ultraviolets. People make do with four main kinds, three of which pick up colors.

Yet tests with pairs of increasingly similar colors found that the mantis shrimp Haptosquilla trispinosa flunks out when choices narrow to colors 15 nanometers apart in wavelength. At sweet spots in the color spectrum, people can distinguish between wavelengths only one or two nanometers apart.

"Hanne's results are a bit of a shock to us," said Thomas Cronin of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, whose lab also studies mantis shrimp vision.

Thoen tested the color vision of mantis shrimp by training them to scoot toward a pair of optical fibers and punch at the one glowing a particular color. As she narrowed the color gap between the two fibers, the animals eventually no longer discerned a difference.

So far, Thoen has tested her mantis shrimp on six target colors and nearby wavelengths, ranging from a 425-nanometer purple to a 628-nanometer red. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.