Washington, May 14 : Shrimp sure are weird yet delightful creatures, for according to a new research, a species of the decapod crustaceans can see a world invisible to all other animals.
In the research, Dr Sonja Kleinlogel and Professor Andrew White have shown that mantis shrimp not only have the ability to see colours from the ultraviolet through to the infrared, but have optimal polarisation vision - a first for any animal and a capability that humanity has only achieved in the last decade using fast computer technology.
"The mantis shrimp is a delightfully weird beastie. They're multi-coloured, their genus and species names mean 'mouth-feet' and 'genital-fingers'; they can move each eye independently, they see the world in 11 or 12 primary colours as opposed to our humble three, and now we find that this species can see a world invisible to the rest of us," said Professor White, of the University of Queensland.
Mantis shrimps, dubbed "thumb splitters" by divers because of their vicious claws, have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom, capable of seeing colors from the ultraviolet to the infrared, as well as detecting other subtle variations in light.
They view the world in up to 12 primary colors- four times as many as humans - and can measure six different kinds of light polarization, Swiss and Australian researchers reported.
Polarization is the direction of oscillation in light waves.
Just why Gonodactylus smithii needs this level of rarefied vision is unclear, although the researchers suspect it is to do with food and sex.
"Some of the animals they like to eat are transparent and quite hard to see in sea-water, except they're packed full of polarizing sugars. I suspect they light up like Christmas trees as far as these shrimp are concerned," said Andrew White of the University of Queensland.
And the shrimps probably use tiny changes in color and polarization to send sexual signals between males and females, the researchers believe.
The findings are published in the journal PLoS ONE.