Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 179, Issue 4, pp 473–481 | Cite as

Behavioural evidence for colour vision in stomatopod crustaceans

  • N. J. Marshall
  • J. P. Jones
  • T. W. Cronin
Original Paper


If an organism can be taught to respond in a particular way to a wavelength of light, irrespective of that light's intensity, then it must be able to perceive the colour of the stimulus. No marine invertebrate has yet been shown to have colour vision. Stomatopod crustaceans (mantis shrimps) are colourful animals and their eyes have many adaptations which indicate that they are capable of such spectral analysis. We adopted an associative learning paradigm to attempt to demonstrate colour vision. Stomatopods readily learnt to choose some colours from arrays of greys, even when the correct choice colours were darker than the ones they had been trained to. Possible mechanisms underlying colour vision in these animals, and their ecological significance are discussed. A simple model is presented which may help interpret the complex-stomatopod colour vision system and explain some of the learning anomalies.

Key words

Stomatopod Colour vision Crustacean behaviour 



neutral density


optical density


Retinular cell 8


Retinular cells 1–7


Distally placed R1–7 retinular cells in mid-band row 1

e.g. R1P

Proximally placed R1–7 retinular cells in mid-band row 1


Estimate of chromatic signal ratio


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. J. Marshall
    • 1
  • J. P. Jones
    • 1
  • T. W. Cronin
    • 2
  1. 1.Sussex Centre for Neuroscience, University of SussexBrightonUK
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUMBC CatonsvilleBaltimoreUSA

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