Mantis Shrimp Vision Preview

I haven’t been able to post any hard science this week since I’ve been working on a presentation for my department’s annual symposium. So far, this is the largest audience I have presented my work to.

I thought I might quickly share one of my slides from that presentation as a preview for a much larger future post about the ridiculously complicated mantis shrimp visual system.

Click to embiggen. Stomatopod Photo: Roy Caldwell

This is a comparison of photoreceptor classes in human and mantis shrimp retinas. Each photoreceptor class has a distinct wavelength sensitivity curve. On the human plot, you can see our three cone photoreceptor classes; blue, green, and red. These receptors cover the electromagnetic light spectrum between 400 nm (violet) and 700 nm (red). Our brains are able to process relative stimulation between the three cone photoreceptor classes, allowing us to differentiate many colors.

Mantis Shrimp don’t have the advantage of a large brain for downstream processing, so they take another approach to seeing many colors: They have 16 distinct photoreceptor classes, packed via optical filtering into tight slivers of the spectrum. Of these, five classes are sensitive to UV light, below our visual range (these are the receptor classes that I am attempting to characterize). In addition, not shown in this slide, mantis shrimp can discriminate linearly and circularly polarized light.

Stay tuned for an in depth mantis shrimp vision post at some point.

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3 Responses to “Mantis Shrimp Vision Preview”


  1. 1 Onita July 27, 2013 at 8:07 am

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  1. 1 Mantis Shrimp glow in the dark « Arthropoda Trackback on April 1, 2010 at 1:47 am
  2. 2 More than meets the eye « Amasian Science Trackback on June 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm

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I have moved.
Arthropoda can now be found here.

Michael Bok is a graduate student studying the visual system of mantis shrimp.

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