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Shrimps see beyond the rainbow
Date:5/13/2008

A Swiss marine biologist and an Australian quantum physicist have found that a species of shrimp from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, can see a world invisible to all other animals.

Dr Sonja Kleinlogel and Professor Andrew White have shown that mantis shrimp not only have the ability to see colours from the ultraviolet through to the infrared, but have optimal polarisation vision a first for any animal and a capability that humanity has only achieved in the last decade using fast computer technology. The findings are published in the journal PLoS ONE.

The mantis shrimp is a delightfully weird beastie, said Professor White, of the University of Queensland. They're multi-coloured, their genus and species names mean 'mouth-feet' and 'genital-fingers'; they can move each eye independently, they see the world in 11 or 12 primary colours as opposed to our humble three, and now we find that this species can see a world invisible to the rest of us.

Dr Kleinlogel, is based at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysics in Frankfurt, and collected the shrimp from the reef. She notes that, ...scuba divers know them as 'thumb-splitters', they've got wickedly strong claws and are very aggressive!

Most animals can tell how fast the electric field in a light wave is oscillating, which is perceived as colour. (Blue light oscillates faster than green, which is faster than red). The direction of the oscillation is known as polarisation: many animals, from budgerigars to ants have some form of polarisation vision. Since the 1950s, animals have been shown to use linear polarisation vision for navigation, for finding food, for evading hunters, and for sex, or as Professor White says, ...for the four fs: feeding, fighting, fleeing andflirting.

Commonly, polarisation vision is quite restricted: in its simplest form, different directions of polarisation show up as lighter or darker patches you can see this yourself by looking at clear b
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Contact: Dr. Sonja Kleinlogel
Sonja.Kleinlogel@mpibp-frankfurt.mpg.de
Public Library of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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