Microspectrophotometric evidence for cone monochromacy in sharks

Hart, Nathan Scott, Theiss, Susan Michelle, Harahush, Blake Kristin and Collin, Shaun Patrick (2011) Microspectrophotometric evidence for cone monochromacy in sharks. Naturwissenschaften, 98 3: 193-201. doi:10.1007/s00114-010-0758-8

Author Hart, Nathan Scott
Theiss, Susan Michelle
Harahush, Blake Kristin
Collin, Shaun Patrick
Title Microspectrophotometric evidence for cone monochromacy in sharks
Journal name Naturwissenschaften   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0028-1042
Publication date 2011-03-01
Year available 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s00114-010-0758-8
Volume 98
Issue 3
Start page 193
End page 201
Total pages 9
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer
Language eng
Abstract Sharks are apex predators, and their evolutionary success is in part due to an impressive array of sensory systems, including vision. The eyes of sharks are well developed and function over a wide range of light levels. However, whilst close relatives of the sharks—the rays and chimaeras—are known to have the potential for colour vision, an evolutionary trait thought to provide distinct survival advantages, evidence for colour vision in sharks remains equivocal. Using single-receptor microspectrophotometry, we measured the absorbance spectra of visual pigments located in the retinal photoreceptors of 17 species of shark. We show that, while the spectral tuning of the rod (wavelength of maximum absorbance, λmax 484–518 nm)and cone (λmax 532–561 nm) visual pigments varies between species, each shark has only a single longwavelength-sensitive cone type. This suggests that sharks may be cone monochromats and, therefore, potentially colour blind. Whilst cone monochromacy on land is rare, it may be a common strategy in the marine environment: many aquatic mammals (whales, dolphins and seals) also possess only a single, green-sensitive cone type. It appears that both sharks and marine mammals may have arrived at the same visual design by convergent evolution. The spectral tuning of the rod and cone pigments of sharks is also discussed in relation to their visual ecology.
Keyword Shark
Colour vision
Visual pigment
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online: 7 January 2011

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Created: Sun, 06 Mar 2011, 10:05:28 EST