Video 27 Feb 477 notes

Brainbeauty: Did you know chickens ‘one-up’ humans in ability to see color?

The retina contains two types of cells, rods and cones. Rods handle low light vision where as cones handle color vision and detail. A series of complex chemical reactions occurs when light contacts these two types of cells. The number and ratio of rods to cones varies among species, dependent on whether an animal is primarily diurnal or nocturnal.

Birds have five types of cones including four single cones and a double cone thought to mediate achromatic motion perception. Birds have a cone photoreceptor for violet/ultraviolet light in addition to the red, blue and green single cone cells that humans share. Much however is still unknown about the spatial organization of avian cones and the adaptive significance. 

The vibrancy of avian color vision is currently thought to be a result of not experiencing an evolutionary nocturnal period. In contrast, mammals spent millennia as nocturnal organisms and developed a high density of rod photoreceptors. Since chickens possess minimal rods, mammals still have the ‘one-up’ in the dark.

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