Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fish can recognize a face based on UV pattern alone

Date:
March 1, 2010
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Two species of damselfish may look identical -- not to mention drab -- to the human eye. But that's because, in comparison to the fish, all of us are essentially colorblind. A new study reveals that the fish can easily tell one species from another based entirely on the shape of the ultraviolet patterns on their faces.

Two species of damselfish may look identical -- not to mention drab -- to the human eye. But that's because, in comparison to the fish, all of us are essentially colorblind. A new study published online on February 25th in Current Biology, reveals that the fish can easily tell one species from another based entirely on the shape of the ultraviolet (UV) patterns on their faces.

Although scientists have long known that some animals have UV vision, the new findings suggest that this sense can be keener and perhaps more useful as a "communication channel" than had been anticipated, according to the researchers.

"Researchers have been assuming for a long time that UV vision is not very good -- and that it is only useful for detecting the presence and absence of UV light, or objects in front of UV bright backgrounds," said Ulrike Siebeck of the University of Queensland in Australia. "The exciting thing is that we can show that these fish can tell the difference between intricate UV patterns -- something that was not expected based on previous assumptions."

In fact, researchers had some good reasons to doubt the precision of UV vision. The short wavelengths of light that characterize UV are prone to scattering in air and water. And even animals that can see in the UV range usually don't have all that many UV cones, or photoreceptors, in their eyes. But apparently nobody told that to the damselfish.

In the new experiments, Siebeck's team presented the very aggressive fish with two intruders, representing different species that vary in appearance only in their UV patterns. Those initial choice tests showed that the fish always attacked one species over the other. But, when the researchers took away the fishes' ability to see in UV, that preference between species disappeared.

The researchers next transferred the two species-specific UV patterns onto otherwise blank pieces of paper. They trained the fish to swim up to and nudge one of the patterns by offering food rewards. When the fish were later presented with both patterns, they still selected the pattern they had been trained on.

Put together, the two lines of evidence support the notion that the UV patterns are both necessary and sufficient for the fish to tell the two species apart.

The ability to see in this visual field is likely quite convenient for the fish, Siebeck said. "If you think about it in simple terms, fish have to be inconspicuous if they want to go undetected by their predators and prey, but at the same time, they have to be conspicuous if they want to attract the attention of potential mates, for example. Using UV patterns to do this is a clever way to maximize both at the same time -- they are still inconspicuous to predators but very conspicuous to other fish with UV vision."

The researchers say the new findings now call for more detailed investigation of UV vision in damselfish and other UV-sighted animals, to find out just how well animals can see in this range, and over what distances. The researchers are also testing whether fish can tell different individuals -- as opposed to whole species -- apart based on fine-scale variation in their UV facial patterns.

The researchers include Ulrike E. Siebeck, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; Amira N. Parker, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; Dennis Sprenger, University of Tubingen, Tubingen, Germany; Lydia M. Mathger, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA; and Guy Wallis, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Fish can recognize a face based on UV pattern alone." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100225122653.htm>.
Cell Press. (2010, March 1). Fish can recognize a face based on UV pattern alone. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100225122653.htm
Cell Press. "Fish can recognize a face based on UV pattern alone." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100225122653.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) With plenty of honking, flapping, and fluttering, more than three dozen Caribbean flamingos at Zoo Miami were rounded up today as the iconic exhibit was closed for renovations. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins