A different form of color vision in mantis shrimp

Hanne H. Thoen, Martin J. How, Tsyr-Huei Chiou, Justin Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


One of the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom can be found in species of stomatopod crustaceans (mantis shrimp), some of which have 12 different photoreceptor types, each sampling a narrow set of wavelengths ranging from deep ultraviolet to far red (300 to 720 nanometers) (1-3). Functionally, this chromatic complexity has presented a mystery (3-5). Why use 12 color channels when three or four are sufficient for fine color discrimination? Behavioral wavelength discrimination tests (Δλ functions) in stomatopods revealed a surprisingly poor performance, ruling out color vision that makes use of the conventional color-opponent coding system (6-8). Instead, our experiments suggest that stomatopods use a previously unknown color vision system based on temporal signaling combined with scanning eye movements, enabling a type of color recognition rather than discrimination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-413
Number of pages3
Issue number6169
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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