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NCKU Professor's Research on Mantis Shrimp Published in 'Science'
[February 27, 2014]

NCKU Professor's Research on Mantis Shrimp Published in 'Science'

TAINAN, Taiwan --(Business Wire)--

National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) Professor Tsyr-Huei Chiou revealed that the eyes of mantis shrimp use 12 different color channels to react to a specific color and analyze what it seen into the brain without processing or distinguishing the colors.

"The 12 photoreceptors operate independently, as well as process each wavelength of light in parallel to the others, giving the mantis shrimp's color vision system a very high efficiency," said Professor Chiou from the Department of Life Sciences, NCKU, southern Taiwan, at a press conference on February 26.

Chiou has been working with an Australian-based team of marine biologists for many years and their study which is published in the journal "Science" in January offers insight into the unique color vision of mantis shrimp.

"People suppose tht mantis shrimp with 12 photoreceptors should be far better at distinguishing colors than humans are; however, the findings indicate that mantis shrimp do not," said Chiou.

He also said, "Actually, mantis shrimp with 12 color channels processing perform worse in differentiating between colors than humans with their 3 channels."

This critical finding shattered the illusion that complex eyes with more color channels mean better color vision.

According to Chiou, mantis shrimp's ability to discriminate between colors is tested in the study and the results indicate another way of color processing which may inspire innovative technologies in the applied sciences.

Chiou's research team is currently targeting the neural link between the photoreceptor cells and the mantis shrimp brain, in order to analyze what signals are being transmitted.

Chiou whose research interest is in visual physiology of marine invertebrates revealed his future study is to model the mantis shrimp's vision nervous system and further develop and improve performance of the parallel processing mechanism and technology.

He mentioned that most of his recent work focuses on the sensing of polarized light, namely polarization vision.

Currently Chiou has been working on two very distinct marine animal groups, stomatopod crustaceans and cephalopod mollusks.

He said, in addition to the differences between the compound eye and lens eye, the color vision capacity of these two animal groups represent two extremes in the animal kingdom.

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