It is common knowledge that Andrew and I have a thing for mantis shrimps. Simply put, they are sweet. Andrew even has a poster of a mantis shrimp on the ceiling in his bedroom.
New research in a recent issue of Current Biology indicates that these amazing creatures are even MORE incredible than we thought. Not only do they have ridiculous coloration, the same super creepy appearance and the fastest/most powerful strike of any animal in the kingdom, but now it would seem, they have the most complex eyes as well.
I see London, I see France…
As explained by our good buddies at Science Friday, human beings have three visual cone pigments, mantis shrimps have sixteen, allowing them to…
…see colors whose appearance we literally cannot even imagine–ten times the amount overall colors that we can see.
The shrimps’ eyes are also structured in a way that allows them to see different types of light completely, specifically linear polarization. According to those dweebs at Wired.com, “Linear polarization refers to light with photons traveling along parallel, up-and-down wavelengths. By contrast, circular polarized light — CPL for short — has photons traveling in parallel, rotating wavelengths. It occurs rarely in nature but is widely used in high-tech communications.” The Wired folks predict that by studying the mantis shrimps’ eyes more carefully we may be able to develop more powerful and efficient CPL systems. Just out of curiosity, if you’re so smart Wired.com, then why are you hitting yourself? Why are you hitting yourself?
So it would appear that mantis shrimps are not only seeing colors that we cannot, but probably a whole bunch of different sources of light as well. Through behavioral studies, scientists proved that mantis shrimps actually communicate with one another by broadcasting CPL waves. “This is the most private channel of communication in the animal kingdom,” said Roy Caldwell, co-author of the study and Professor of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley. Hmmm, a “private channel” of illicit mantis shrimp chat…Andrew is on the phone with Comcast right now seeing if he can subscribe. We’ll let you know how that goes.