Filtering and polychromatic vision in mantis shrimps: Themes in visible and ultraviolet vision

Thomas W. Cronin, Michael J. Bok, N. Justin Marshall, Roy L. Caldwell

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

33 Citations (Scopus)


Stomatopod crustaceans have the most complex and diverse assortment of retinal photoreceptors of any animals, with 16 functional classes. The receptor classes are subdivided into sets responsible for ultraviolet vision, spatial vision, colour vision and polarization vision. Many of these receptor classes are spectrally tuned by filtering pigments located in photoreceptors or overlying optical elements. At visible wavelengths, carotenoproteins or similar substances are packed into vesicles used either as serial, intrarhabdomal filters or lateral filters. A single retina may contain a diversity of these filtering pigments paired with specific photoreceptors, and the pigments used vary between and within species both taxonomically and ecologically. Ultraviolet- filtering pigments in the crystalline cones serve to tune ultraviolet vision in these animals as well, and some ultraviolet receptors themselves act as birefringent filters to enable circular polarization vision. Stomatopods have reached an evolutionary extreme in their use of filter mechanisms to tune photoreception to habitat and behaviour, allowing them to extend the spectral range of their vision both deeper into the ultraviolet and further into the red.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20130032
JournalPhilosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1636
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2014


  • Colour vision
  • Polarization vision
  • Spectral filtering
  • Stomatopod
  • Ultraviolet vision
  • Visual ecology


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