Guest post by Susan Milius
The secret to a mantis shrimp’s ultraviolet vision is, oddly enough, UV-blocking sunscreen.
The mantis shrimp Neogonodactylus oerstedii sees its watery world via 16 kinds of light-detecting photoreceptor cells. Six kinds see only ultraviolet, each photoreceptor especially sensitive to a different wavelength. Yet five photoreceptor types have identical light-detecting pigments, says Michael Bok of Lund University in Sweden.
Their diverse sensitivities come from different sets of tiny UV-absorbing filters above the visual pigments. The filters, with mycosporine-like amino acid compounds, block different wavelengths, Bok and his colleagues report in the July 21 Current Biology.