Mantis shrimp can see the world in a way that had never been observed in any animal before, researchers report in the March 20th Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. The discovery--which marks the fourth type of visual system--suggests that the ability to perceive circular polarized light may lend mantis shrimp a secret mode of communication.
"Mantis shrimp ventured into a new dimension of vision," said Justin Marshall of the University of Queensland in Australia. Also known as stomatopods, mantis shrimp are large and particularly violent marine crustaceans that aren't actually a kind of shrimp but look something like one.
Marshall describes circular polarized light as a spiraling beam that spins either to the left or the right. Scientists had shown before that some animals, such as scarab beetles, reflect that kind of light, but they hadn't shown that any animal could actual
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