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Mantis Shrimp Essay

1138 words - 5 pages

INTRODUCTION
The mantis shrimp is a stomatopod known for its extraordinary eye sight. It is thought to have one of the most complex visual systems in the animal kingdom. Their eyes are similar to many insects in that they have ‘compound eyes’ each eye sits on a stalk and can move independently to the other, The trinocular vision experienced by the mantis shrimp allows it to see circularly polarized light as well as a host of colours not even fathomable to humans. Biomimicry is a form of engineering that describes the design of new products based on things observable in nature; just as the study of a bird may help us design aero planes; the study of the visual structure of the mantis shrimp ...view middle of the document...

The ommatidia in this area are modified and have been segregated into diverse receptor celltypes through segregation of receptor cells into multiple tiers. This means that there is an expression of many more visual pigments and optical structures which allows for the eye to produce an image with greater resolution and sensitivity.

One thing that is important to clarify is that; whilst the mantis shrimp does have an extraordinarily complex visual system; this does not mean that its eye sight is far superior to that of humans. Human eye structure allows us to produce an image with much higher resolution that that of an image produced by the mantis’ shrimps eye. In addition; the downstream processing made possible by our large brains means that we are likely to have a greater ability in discriminating between colors than the mantis shrimp, despite the fact that we cannot see as many colors as the mantis shrimp. Although their vision is not necessarily better than that of humans; it is the unique structure of their eye that holds the promise of technological advancement as it is unique and can be applied to show how a complex image can be produced using a limited amount of brain space for processing.

The obvious question now being; how does this complex visual system really benefit the mantis shrimp in its natural habitat and what evolutionary factors could have led to the development of their complex visual system? According to Michael Bok the ability to discriminate light in a broader spectral range and their strong polarization sensitivity is able to help the mantis shrimp in contrast enhancement; useful when trying to spot prey and possible predators. The fact that they are able to see forms of light that we as humans, and many other animals cannot see means that the mantis shrimp may be more efficient in detecting prey who are trying to camouflage themselves. It is also suggested that the ability to see UV light is a distinct advantage to the shrimp as it allows it to choose areas of the right depth to live. The vision of the mantis shrimp is still being researched and whilst there are multiple suggestions about how the mantis shrimp uses its advanced visual system to benefit itself one idea that is being studied heavily is the idea that the mantis shrimp uses visual signals as a form of communication; it is suggested that they communicate with...

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