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A novel eye in 'eyeless' shrimp from hydrothermal vents of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Nature volume 337, pages 458460 (02 February 1989) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Rimicaris exoculata1 is a shrimp that swarms over high-temperature (350 °C) sulphide chimneys at Mid-Atlantic Ridge hydrothermal fields (3,600 m)1–7. This shrimp lacks an externally differentiated eye1, having instead a pair of large organs within the cephalothorax immediately beneath the dorsal surface of the transparent carapace, connected by large nerve tracts to the supraesophageal ganglion. These organs contain a visual pigment with an absorption spectrum characteristic of rhodopsin. Ultra-structural evidence for degraded rhabdomeral material suggests the presence of photoreceptors. No image-forming optics are associated with the organs. We interpret these organs as being eyes adapted for detection of low-level illumination and suggest that they evolved in response to a source of radiation associated with the environment of hydrothermal vents.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA

    • Cindy Lee Van Dover
  2. Laboratory of Sensory Physiology, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543 and Department of Physiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA

    • Ete Z. Szuts
  3. Department of Bioengineering and Institute for Sensory Research, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244, USA

    • Steven C. Chamberlain
  4. Department of Geology, University of Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK

    • J. R. Cann

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https://doi.org/10.1038/337458a0

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