Warm eyes provide superior vision in swordfishes

Fritsches, K. A., Brill, R. W. and Warrant, E. J. (2005) Warm eyes provide superior vision in swordfishes. Current Biology, 15 1: 55-58. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2004.12.064

Author Fritsches, K. A.
Brill, R. W.
Warrant, E. J.
Title Warm eyes provide superior vision in swordfishes
Journal name Current Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0960-9822
Publication date 2005
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2004.12.064
Volume 15
Issue 1
Start page 55
End page 58
Total pages 4
Place of publication Cambridge, United States
Publisher Cell Press
Collection year 2005
Language eng
Subject C1
270502 Neurobiology
270604 Comparative Physiology
630301 Fisheries-commercial
630302 Fisheries-recreational
780105 Biological sciences
0704 Fisheries Sciences
Abstract Large and powerful ocean predators such as swordfishes, some tunas, and several shark species are unique among fishes in that they are capable of maintaining elevated body temperatures (endothermy) when hunting for prey in deep and cold water [1-3]. In these animals, warming the central nervous system and the eyes is the one common feature of this energetically costly adaptation [4]. In the swordfish (Xiphias gladius), a highly specialized heating system located in an extraocular muscle specifically warms the eyes and brain up to 10degreesC-15degreesC above ambient water temperatures [2, 5]. Although the function of neural warming in fishes has been the subject of considerable speculation [1, 6, 7], the biological significance of this unusual ability has until now remained unknown. We show here that warming the retina significantly improves temporal resolution, and hence the detection of rapid motion, in fast-swimming predatory fishes such as the swordfish. Depending on diving depth, temporal resolution can be more than ten times greater in these fishes than in fishes with eyes at the same temperature as the surrounding water. The enhanced temporal resolution allowed by heated eyes provides warm-blooded and highly visual oceanic predators, such as swordfishes, tunas, and sharks, with a crucial advantage over their agile, cold-blooded prey.
Keyword Atlantic
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Q-Index Code C1

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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 06:22:43 EST