A new camera system technology is set to transform the way ecologists and filmmakers understand and visualize the color perceptions of various animals in their natural habitats.
How animals perceive color
Traditionally, the unique visual worlds of different species remained largely a mystery to humans. Many animals, such as bees and some birds, Perceive colors beyond human ability, such as ultraviolet light.
This difference is due to the variety of photoreceptors in their eyes. Understanding these color perceptions is crucial to understanding animal communication and navigation.
While false color images offered a glimpse into this world, they were hampered by limitations such as time-consuming processes, specific lighting requirements, and the inability to capture motion.
To address these challenges, the research team has developed a state-of-the-art camera and software system capable of recording and processing videos in natural lighting conditions.
The camera sees colors like animals.
As seen in this image, the system records in four color channels: blue, green, red and UV. It then converts this data into “perceptual units,” essentially translating it into a format that replicates animal vision based on data from known photoreceptors.
Surprisingly, compared to traditional spectrophotometry methods, this new system has more than 92% accuracy in predicting the perceived colors that animals see.
This innovation opens unprecedented avenues for scientific research. Provides scientists with a tool to explore the dynamic and colorful world seen by Various species.
Additionally, filmmakers can now create more accurate and engaging representations of animal vision in their works.
The practicality of this system is further enhanced by its construction from readily available commercial cameras, encased in a 3D printed modular housing.
Additionally, the accompanying software is open source, inviting further development and adaptation within the research community.
For example, in this image, the camera captures a nightingale in the green forest, but this beautiful nature scene is shown. how you would look through bird’s eyes.
Bridging the gap between humans and animals
Lead author Daniel Hanley eloquently sums up the importance of the project.
“We have long been fascinated by the way animals see the world. Modern sensory ecology techniques have allowed us to infer static scenes from an animal’s perspective. However, understanding their perception of moving objects, crucial for activities such as locating food or selecting a mate, remained elusive,” Hanley explained.
“Our development introduces tools for ecologists and filmmakers to accurately capture and display the moving colors perceived by animals, marking a significant advance in our study of animal behavior and perception,” he concluded.
In summary, this pioneering camera system Not only does it represent a technological advance, but it also marks a new chapter in our understanding of the animal kingdom, bringing us closer to experiencing the world through their eyes.
New camera shows how animals see color
Northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) in avian view
In this video, two northern mockingbirds are seen interacting in a tree, in false avian colors. Specifically, the video shows blue, green, and red quantum snapshots as blue, green, and red, respectively, and the UV quantum snapshots are overlaid in magenta.
While the 80mm lens is not designed to capture images of distant subjects, the system captures images of the birds’ eyesight well and displays the spots on their “avian white” feathers (which reflect UV rays through the visible parts of the spectrum).
It also illustrates that the sky is predominantly UV colored (i.e., appears magenta), because shorter wavelengths are subject to greater Rayleigh scattering. Therefore, while the sky may appear blue to our eyes, it will appear ultraviolet blue to many other organisms.
Iridescent peacock feather through the eyes of 4 different animals.
The camera system can measure angle-dependent structural colors, such as iridescence. This is illustrated here through a video of a very iridescent peacock (Pavo cristatus) feather.
The colors in this video represent (A) peacock. Pavo cristatus false color, where the blue, green, and red quantum captures are represented as blue, green, and red, respectively, and the UV is overlaid as magenta.
Interestingly, iridescence is more noticeable for the peacock than for (B) humans (standard colors), (C) bees, or (D) dogs.
The anti-predator display of a caterpillar in Apis vision.
This video shows a black swallowtail. Papilio polixenes Caterpillar showing its osmeteria. Scientists illustrate this video with false colors of bees, so quantum captures of UV, blue, and green rays are displayed as blue, green, and red, respectively.
The yellow osmeteria (human), as well as the yellow spots along the caterpillar’s back, reflect strongly in UV rays and appear magenta when the colors change to false bee colors (such as the strong responses of sensitive photoreceptors to UV rays and bee green). are represented in blue and red, respectively).
Many caterpillar predators sense UV rays, and consequently this coloration could be an effective aposematic signal.
More about animals, cameras and color vision.
As mentioned above, the way animals perceive color is a fascinating journey into a world beyond human vision. Unlike humans, many animals see colors in spectrums we can barely imagine.
Humans usually perceive three primary colors: red, green and blue. But this is only a fraction of the color spectrum of the animal kingdom.
For example, bees and birds can see ultraviolet light, which is invisible to us. This ability plays a crucial role in their survival, helping them find food and navigate their environment.
Beyond human perception
Take the mantis shrimp, an ocean dweller with one of the most complex vision systems known.
It can perceive polarized light and has twelve to sixteen types of photoreceptor cells for color (humans have three).
This extraordinary vision helps them detect prey, predators and mates in the intricate underwater world.
Color vision in animals is not just about seeing a variety of colors; It’s about survival. For example, some snakes use infrared vision to hunt warm-blooded prey in the dark.
On the other hand, reindeer use ultraviolet vision to detect predators in the snowy, reflective landscape, a crucial skill for their survival in harsh climates.
Humans acquiring knowledge
Evolution plays an important role in this diversity of color vision. Animals have developed their unique color vision abilities based on their environmental needs and survival challenges.
This evolutionary process has resulted in a rich tapestry of visual abilities across the animal kingdom.
Today, with technological advances, humans are beginning to understand and even visualize how animals see the world.
This understanding not only deepens our appreciation of the complexity of nature, but also opens new avenues in ecology, behavioral studies, and even technological design inspired by nature’s ingenuity.
In short, the world of animal color vision is vibrant and complex, offering a kaleidoscope of perspectives far beyond human capabilities.
As we continue to explore and understand these perspectives, we gain a deeper appreciation for the natural world and the diverse creatures that inhabit it.
The full study was published in the journal PLoS biology.
For videos demonstrating how the camera works in nature, Click here…
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