Through animals’ eyes

Experts from the School of Life Sciences recently gave an insight into the fascinating world of animal vision at a prestigious national exhibition.

Gharial eye
Gharial eye

Drs Anna Wilkinson and Tom Pike presented research at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London, an event that showcases cutting-edge developments in science and technology. The exhibit featured interactive activities, such as viewing how animals see the world through special glasses, and a chance to participate in a real research project. The study will determine whether humans, who typically have three cone cells to convey colour, can learn to see as a dichromat – a person with only two cone cells that would experience a degree of colour blindness.”

Dr Wilkinson explained the aims of the exhibit: “Animal colouration provides some of the most striking examples of evolution by natural and sexual selection, but animal colours did not evolve for our benefit. The exhibit explained the evolution and diversity of animal colouration by considering how these colours appear to the animals themselves.

“Many animals can see ultraviolet light, some can see polarised light and a good number can see many more colours than we can. On the other hand, some animals see far fewer colours than humans.

“Because animal colours evolved for the benefit of animal eyes, not human eyes, understanding the visual world from an animal’s point of view can explain why some animals are bright while others are dull, some are highly patterned and others plain.”