University of Chicago
Xia, the Mantis Shrimp that could.
The mantis shrimp can perceive both and ; they have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom. Human eyes have color receptors for three colors (red, green, and blue); the mantis shrimp has receptors for sixteen types of color, enabling them to see a spectrum far beyond the capacity of the human brain. Seriously, how cool is the mantis shrimp: mantisshrimp.uchicago.edu. What might they be able to see that we cannot? What are we missing? (650 words) —Inspired by Tess Moran, AB’162
An orchestra of color begins playing as the mantis shrimp unleashes its stunning arm from under its shell. It whips through the water at the speed of a .22 caliber rifle. A symphony of magenta and bronze. The blistering bubble it creates pops at 4,400 degrees celsius. A crescendo of maroon spirals into deep navy. Its hunts are fireworks amplified, light shows loudened. But no, it does not just see different colors — a common misconception. Instead, it is what it hears that inspires colors.
Mantis society is shaped as such: no two Mantises share the same method of hunting prey, and thus produce vastly different sounds when hunting. The unique colors they hear when hunting are known as ‘Killsigns’, which are reflected in the colors of all mantis’ shells. Because specialization in a Killsign has proven to be the most effective method of hunting, society often judges Mantises by how their Killsigns look. The more brilliant the monochromatic shade of color in their Killsign, the more experienced the Mantis is in its unique method of killing, and the more successful they are perceived to be.
Here is the catch: In their everyday lives, Mantises only have the ability to hear colors developed in their Killsign, and remain effectively...
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