Mantis Shrimp Roll Their Eyes to Improve Their Vision

Posted on July 18, 2016

Mantis Shrimp eyes

Mantis shrimp are known for being able to see the polarization of light. Researchers from the University of Bristol's School of Biological Sciences have determined the shrimp roll their eyes to improve their polarization vision.

Study co-author Dr. Nicholas Roberts says in a statement, "We have known for a while that mantis shrimp see the world very differently from humans. They can use 12 different colour channels (we use only three), and can see the polarization of light. But the eye movements of mantis shrimp have always been something of a puzzle. Intuitively, a stable eye should see the world better than a mobile one, but mantis shrimp seem to have found a different way to see more clearly."

The scientists say in the research paper that the shrimp "rotate their eyes to align particular photoreceptors relative to the angle of polarization of a linearly polarized visual stimulus, thereby maximizing the polarization contrast between an object of interest and its background." They say this is the first documented example of ay animal displaying dynamic polarization vision.

The scientists are studying the unique vision of the mantis shrimp in the hopes findings from the research can be applied to technology. They say that an automated visual system that mimics the shrimp eye could "provide a low-power, high-performance piece of technology, with applications ranging from underwater exploration to materials analysis."

A research paper on the findings was published here in the journal, Nature Communications.

Photo: Michael Bok, University of Lund

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