Here’s a challenge: try imagining a new color.
Seems like a ridiculous thing to say, right? I mean, how can we imagine something that doesn’t exist?
We, humans, have the ability to see a wide range of colors that exist in the visible light spectrum. Different living beings have different capabilities in the colors they can see. Humans can see colors that exist in the wavelengths of 380-700 nanometers range.
It’s not anyone’s choice how many colors they can see. It all depends on our eyes. Dogs see fewer colors than humans can.
That’s because human eyes have 3 types of cones that help us differentiate colors. Dogs only have 2 of those cones. This means that dogs can only see blue and yellow.
Like that, there are numerous animals on Earth who see a different number of colors. Let’s list some that see more than we can:
Butterflies are small, cute, and extremely delicate. Where they surpass humans is in the number of cones their eyes have. Remember, humans have 3 cones. Butterflies, on the other hand, have 6 six cones.
A species of butterflies called the Japanese Yellow Swallowtail has a remarkable number of 15 cones!
Studies have shown that not all the cones are used to identify unqiue colors. Some of their cones are used to see UV light rays.
So what advantage do these extra cones give to butterflies from an evolutionary standpoint? Well, we don’t know yet.
Are there possibly more species of butterflies that have much more cones in their eyes? Quite possibly yes. We discover new species every so often and to think we’ve seen it all is simply wrong.
Next up on the list are goldfish
Yes, goldfish see more colors than you. Should you be worried that they’ll use this to their advantage and take over the world? Not at all.
Goldfish are pretty harmless and in even within the fish kingdom, they fall into the prey category. So it’s going to be a long time before goldfish evolve enough to be able to take us down.
So how many cones do they have? Accroding to research, they have three color cones and an additional one for UV light.
Let’s talk about pigeons now
It’s no secret that birds have amazing vision. They fly high in the skies and stalk their prey from above. They also use this vision advantage to keep away from predators.
So what about their color senses? Well they’re pretty similar to goldfish. Seems weird, but nature is weird, isn’t it?
What differentiates them from goldfish is their sensitivity to UV light. It’s not clear how easily they see those colors, but estimates put it around 360 nanometers. The results were inconclusive because researchers had problems producing lower frequency waves with their machines.
The champion of colors: the Mantis Shrimp
The Mantis Shrimp is an amazing creature. It’s only 6 inches long on average, but is known for having a ridiculously powerful punch.
You can see the shrimp in action in this Nat Geo Wild video.
The most intersting aspect of the shrimp is its color seeing capabilities. They are believed to have the most amazing color vision on Earth. They have about 16 different cones and a wide variety of features that let them see things in manners that we cannot percieve.
Like every animal on this list, science has barely scratched the surface of what we know about them. Their exact capabilities might be unknown to us for who knows how long.
Even animals that we’ve known for centuries sometimes surprise us with new research.
We guess that’s the beauty of nature. The most we can do is keep our thirst for knowledge high and keep learning.
I love understanding how different technologies work and explaining them to people. From tech guides to opinions, everything is interesting to me. Other than that, I enjoy writing about various science-related topics and conversing with people.