Mantis shrimp’s bizarre visual system may save brainpower | Science News

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Mantis shrimp’s bizarre visual system may save brainpower

Crustacean uses complex eyes to perceive color in way unlike any other animal’s

3:19pm, January 23, 2014

THE EYES HAVE IT  The mantis shrimp sees colors in a way that fundamentally differs from other animals’ color vision, a new study suggests.

No one can deny that the mantis shrimp is special. The charismatic crustacean looks like a walking Mardi Gras parade and hammers its enemies so fast that water boils. Now scientists have added another distinction: The mantis shrimp has a really strange way of seeing colors.  

People and other animals perceive a palette of colors by blending and comparing signals from a few types of color-sensing eye cells called photoreceptors. In contrast, the mantis shrimp sees each color separately with one of a dozen kinds of specialized cells, scientists suggest in the Jan. 24 Science.

The bizarre color vision system might be a way for the mantis shrimp to quickly see colors without a lot of brainpower. Because mantis shrimp don’t have big brains, their dazzlingly complex eye might do the bulk of their color processing, says vision scientist Michael Bok of Lund University in Sweden, who wasn’t involved

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