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  • Marc Primo Warren


Updated: Mar 12, 2021

This is an article “How our Eyes Differ With Animals When We See Color” by Marc Primo Warren

Many are still wondering if dogs can only see in black and white monochromes, but the short answer is false. However, there is truth in the difference between how animals and people see things. Whether for survival or just plain lucky, some animals can see more than we do, and it’s time to understand the facts.

First, a small lesson on how we see color. Light rays bend or refract when they reach our eyes’ retinas and are received by millions of light-sensitive cells. Light waves then send information to our brains so we can understand what we are seeing from shapes to color.

On the other hand, animals that are color blind like dogs, owls, or most reptiles lack cones that are less sensitive to light, while daytime pets lack rods which support vision in low light.

To know more on how different animals see colors from humans, here are more interesting facts:

Your favorite pets have wider view and can see better at night

If you have a dog at home, it’s easy to notice how they are sensitive to things around them even when it’s dark. That’s because our furry-tailed buddies have more rods that allow them to have a wider field of vision even with only two color receptors (they mostly see blue and yellow). The same goes for cats who can’t really detect red but have excellent vision at night time.

Some insects can see more color than we do

Yes we’re bigger, but such little insects as bees and butterflies have an extra receptor cone over humans which allows them to see a whole other spectrum of colors. Most insects can see ultraviolet colors but fail to really capture their sight’s details. This is mainly because their ultraviolet receptor allows them to feed off certain types of flowers and petals for survival. When predators are nearby, insects also use their extra receptor to signal a warning or fend off attacks.

Snakes use thermal sensing for sight

Not many really like snakes as pets that they, along with other reptiles, make for great studies especially when it comes to seeing color. Pit vipers have infrared vision that allow them to sense body heat from prey with the help of their nostrils. This means that even if they are in total darkness, they can sense warm bodies from up to a meter far without any effort. So, tread very carefully when you’re out in the woods or jungle camping.

The one that can see the most color

If there’s one animal that stands out when it comes to seeing the full spectrum of colors, it’s the weird-looking yet equally interesting mantis shrimp.

This king of sight has a total of 16 color receptive cones that let them see ten times more color than we humans do (or any other animal for that matter). Their versatile eyes which can move away from each other for wider vision also have ultraviolet, infrared, and polarized light capabilities with the help of light-sensitive proteins called opsins, making them hard prey or predators to deal with. And though mantis shrimps are a rather peaceful species, they can also be deadly with their large clubs striking their prey at bullet-like speeds.

With its amazing field of vision and spectrum of color, the mantis shrimp is definitely one of the most terrifying animals out there you wouldn’t want to mess around with.

If you want to find out more about Marc Primo Warren our services or just say hi, please reach out here.

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