Deep-sea fishes’ eye chemistry might let them see colors in near darkness

Date: May 10, 2019

Source: ScienceNews
Author: Susan Milius

Some fishes in the deep, dark sea may see their world in more than just shades of gray.

A survey of 101 fish species reveals that four from the deep sea had a surprising number of genes for light-sensitive eye proteins called rod opsins, researchers report in the May 10 Science. Depending on how the animals use those light catchers, the discovery might challenge the widespread idea that deep-sea fishes don’t see color, says coauthor Zuzana Musilová, an evolutionary biologist at Charles University in Prague.

To see, many fishes, humans and most other vertebrates rely on two types of light-detecting cells in the eye known as rods and cones. Cone cells use two or more kinds of opsins and need decent amounts of light to work. Rods generally use only one opsin called RH1, which works in dim light. That variety in opsins in cones, but not in rods, lets vertebrates see a range of colors in well-lit conditions but be color-blind in the near dark.

In the new study, Musilová an

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