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A unique colour and polarization vision system in mantis shrimps


The apposition compound eyes of mantis shrimps (stomatopods) are divided into three sections, the dorsal and ventral hemispheres and the midband. Many ommatidia of both hemispheres, and all those in the midband, sample the same narrow band in space. The function of the morphologically distinct midband region is not clear, but new evidence suggests that it may be adapted in a unique manner for colour and polarization vision. A series of carotenoid colour filters screen the photopigment and potentially provide a tetrachromatic input for contrast-enhanced vision or true colour vision1. The filters are blocks of coloured droplets (red, orange, yellow, purple, pink or blue) within the rhabdoms of two rows of midband ommatidia. The arrangement of tiered microvilli in two other midband rows suggests that they provide a unique form of polarization vision.

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Marshall, N. A unique colour and polarization vision system in mantis shrimps. Nature 333, 557–560 (1988).

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