Seeing is one of the most enjoyable senses humans enjoy. When Katrina, a patient of mine, told me about how special the Mantis Shrimp was, I knew I had to find out more.
At first hand you might think that all animals pretty much had the same eyes and got images of the world about the same. Some do but the Mantis Shrimp is in a class by itself. This small unintelligent creature possesses a most unusual visual system.
Humans have 3 cones and 1 rod type receptors in their retina. Cones are red, green and blue and are utilized in various ways to give us the spectrum of colors we see. Rods give us acuity to see at night. Recently there has been discovered a new receptor that adjusts our internal circadian clock.
In a National Geographic article by Ed Yong, he describes the amazing layout of the Mantis Shrimp visual system in detail. Unlike humans who only have 3 different type receptors the Mantis Shrimp has at least 6 to 12 and maybe even 16 !!!
At the first discovery of addition receptors, it was thought that the shrimp might see even more color details than humans do. However, that was not the case as described by Jessica Morrison’s article and video in the science journal Nature.
What research does seem to agree on is that the arrangement of the Mantis Shrimp’s eyes allows it to respond quickly, perhaps even bypassing it’s own brain, and avoid predators and react quickly to it’s environment.
If they ever figure out just ‘how’ the Mantis Shrimp’s eyes work, perhaps us humans will be able to react even ‘faster’ than we do now. Think about how many Facebook postings and Tweets we could do then!!