Dynamic polarization vision in mantis shrimps

Ilse M Daly, Martin How, Julian Partridge, Shelby Temple, N. Justin Marshall, Thomas W Cronin, Nicholas Roberts*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
313 Downloads (Pure)


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 in order to align particular photoreceptors relative to the angle of polarization of a linearly polarized visual stimulus, thereby maximising 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 maximised through rotational eye movements.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12140
Number of pages9
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2016


  • polarization sensitivity
  • stomatopod
  • saccade
  • eye movement

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