Dynamic polarization vision in mantis shrimps
Ilse M. Daly, Martin J. How, Julian C. Partridge, Shelby E. Temple, N. Justin Marshall, Thomas W. Cronin & Nicholas W. Roberts
Nature Communications 7, Article number: 12140 (2016)
Received: 04 January 2016 Accepted: 06 June 2016 Published online: 12 July 2016
(a) Side view of a Gonodactylus smithii. (b) Rotational degrees of freedom of stomatopod eyes relative to the external environment, as demonstrated in Odontodactylus cultrifer. Yellow arrows=pitch (up–down); green arrows=yaw (side-to-side); red arrows=torsional (roll) rotations. The midband is visible as a distinct stripe of ommatidial facets dividing the eye into dorsal and ventral hemispheres. (c,d) Series of video still frames demonstrating the torsional rotation range in G. smithii (c) and Odontodactylus scyllarus (d). (c) left eye - 45°, 85°, 0°; right eye - 30°, 20°, 90°; and (d) left eye - 90°, 80°, 0°; right eye - 90°, 0°, 90°.
Gaze stabilization is an almost ubiquitous animal behaviour, one that is required to see the world clearly and without blur. Stomatopods, however, only fix their eyes on scenes or objects of interest occasionally. Almost uniquely among animals they explore their visual environment with a series pitch, yaw and torsional (roll) rotations of their eyes, where each eye may also move largely independently of the other. In this work, we demonstrate that the torsional rotations are used to actively enhance their ability to see the polarization of light. Both Gonodactylus smithii and Odontodactylus scyllarus rotate their eyes to align particular photoreceptors relative to the angle of polarization of a linearly polarized visual stimulus, thereby maximizing the polarization contrast between an object of interest and its background. This is the first documented example of any animal displaying dynamic polarization vision, in which the polarization information is actively maximized through rotational eye movements.
We thank Michelle Cole and Holly Campbell for their help with animal care and the staff at the Lizard Island Research Station. Roy Caldwell and Michael Bok for their wonderful photographs. The study was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (grant # FA8655-12-2112), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (grant # EP/M000885/1). Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (grant # BB/J014400/1), the European Commission (grant # 656070/PLACAV) and the Royal Society (grant # UF140558).
School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TQ, UK
Ilse M. Daly, Martin J. How, Shelby E. Temple & Nicholas W. Roberts
School of Animal Biology and the Oceans Institute, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway (M317), Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia
Julian C. Partridge
Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia
N. Justin Marshall
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, Maryland 21250, USA
Thomas W. Cronin
I.M.D. performed all the experiments. S.E.T. helped with the construction of the LCD screen. I.M.D, M.J.H and N.W.R designed the experiments and analysed the data. All authors helped write and edit the manuscript.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Correspondence to Nicholas W. Roberts.
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