Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

With 'biological sunscreen,' mantis shrimp see the reef in a whole different light

Date:
July 3, 2014
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
In an unexpected discovery, researchers have found that the complex eyes of mantis shrimp are equipped with optics that generate ultraviolet color vision. Mantis shrimp's six UV photoreceptors pick up on different colors within the UV spectrum based on filters made from an ingredient other animals depend on as built-in biological sunscreen, according to new research.

This is an image of mantis shrimp eyes.
Credit: Michael Bok

In an unexpected discovery, researchers have found that the complex eyes of mantis shrimp are equipped with optics that generate ultraviolet (UV) color vision. Mantis shrimp's six UV photoreceptors pick up on different colors within the UV spectrum based on filters made from an ingredient other animals depend on as built-in biological sunscreen, according to research reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on July 3.

Related Articles


"The mantis shrimp visual system contains six types of photoreceptors functioning completely outside the visual range of humans," says Michael Bok of the University of Maryland Baltimore County. "Surprisingly, they produce their six UV photoreceptors using only two types of visual pigments by pairing one visual pigment with one of four UV filters. The UV filters block certain wavelengths of light from reaching the photoreceptors, chromatically shifting their sensitivity."

The filters are composed of so-called mycosporine-like amino acids (or MAAs), which are commonly found in the skin or exoskeleton of marine organisms, where they absorb damaging UV rays. They do the same thing in mantis shrimp eyes, but for an entirely novel purpose.

"The effect is akin to putting red-tinted glasses over your eyes that block other wavelengths of light, except this is being done at the photoreceptor cellular level in shrimp," Bok explains.

Exactly why mantis shrimp need such a sophisticated visual system remains mysterious, Bok says. Mantis shrimp use their eyes to navigate and spot predators and prey on the vibrant reef that is their home. Mantis shrimp also have complex social interactions that are likely mediated by distinct visual signals on their bodies.

Their complex eyes, which include 16 or more types of photoreceptors in all, may provide them with a complex color and polarization visual system without a big brain to post-process lots of information. In other words, their eyes may sense and respond to complex visual inputs without the need to think very hard about it, Bok explains.

Despite the new discovery, the researchers say, it's still tough to imagine the reef as mantis shrimp see it. "The way their eyes are built and how visual information is processed in their brains is so fundamentally different [from] humans that is very difficult to conceptualize what the world actually looks like to them," Bok says.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. MichaelJ. Bok, MeganL. Porter, AllenR. Place, ThomasW. Cronin. Biological Sunscreens Tune Polychromatic Ultraviolet Vision in Mantis Shrimp. Current Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.05.071

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "With 'biological sunscreen,' mantis shrimp see the reef in a whole different light." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140703125530.htm>.
Cell Press. (2014, July 3). With 'biological sunscreen,' mantis shrimp see the reef in a whole different light. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140703125530.htm
Cell Press. "With 'biological sunscreen,' mantis shrimp see the reef in a whole different light." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140703125530.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gorilla Falls Into Zoo Moat

Gorilla Falls Into Zoo Moat

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) A gorilla comes to the rescue of her sister who fell into a moat in Israel&apos;s Safari zoo. Rough cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
California on Alert Over Surge in Sea Lion Strandings

California on Alert Over Surge in Sea Lion Strandings

AFP (Mar. 31, 2015) Since the start of the year, thousands of baby sea lions have washed up on beaches along the west coast of the United States. Marine animal care centers are working around the clock to save the stranded creatures. Duration: 02:06 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Giant Amphibian Fossils Found in Portugal

Giant Amphibian Fossils Found in Portugal

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) Scientists discover a new species of giant amphibian that was one of the largest predators on earth about 220 million year ago. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rhino Goes on Deadly Rampage in Nepal

Rhino Goes on Deadly Rampage in Nepal

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) A rhino runs rampant down a bustling city street, killing one woman and injuring several others, before security personnel chase it back into the forest. Vanessa Johnston reports. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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