Mantis shrimps have the arguably the most incredible eyes of any animal. Each eye has three areas that can independently focus on objects, which means that a single mantis shrimp eye has “trinocular vision”. Our eyes have receptors that are tuned to three colours; those of mantis shrimps are tuned to at least twelve. And they can tune individual light-sensitive cells to local light levels.
Mantis shrimps can even see a special type of light – ‘circularly polarised light’ – that no other animal can. This ability allows them to send secret messages, produced by circularly polarised light reflecting off different parts of their shell. The ability hinges on a structure in their eyes that’s similar to technology found in our CD and DVD players. The mantis shrimp’s biological engineering completely outclasses our man-made efforts; if we could duplicate it, we could have the basis of tomorrow’s multimedia players and hard drives.