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Sensory adaptation

Tunable colour vision in a mantis shrimp


Systems of colour vision are normally identical in all members of a species, but a single design may not be adequate for species living in a diverse range of light environments. Here we show that in the mantis shrimp Haptosquilla trispinosa, which occupies a range of depths in the ocean, long-wavelength colour receptors are individually tuned to the local light environment. The spectral sensitivity of specific classes of photoreceptor is adjusted by filters that vary between individuals.

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Figure 1: Normalized, average absorption spectra (n = 2–9) of all filter classes in H. trispinosa retinae.


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Correspondence to Thomas W. Cronin.

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Cronin, T., Caldwell, R. & Marshall, J. Tunable colour vision in a mantis shrimp. Nature 411, 547–548 (2001).

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