The eyes have it...
Researchers have figured out some of the complexities of stomatopod
vision, and have just recently demonstrated that they had polarizing
filters in their eyes.
What does this mean? You might be familiar with some commonly
used polarizing filtersthe lenses of polarized sunglasses.
Often, boaters or fishermen will use polarized sunglasses to reduce
glare off the water, enabling them to more easily see rocks or fish
located under the water. Stomatopods have filters like these built
into their eyes.
But what do stomatopods use the filters for? One day in the lab, Roy Caldwell was trying to get a photograph of a stomatopod, but there was glare off the glass of the aquarium.
To cut down on the glare, he used a polarized filter on his camera.
What do you think he saw?
The images in the animation above were taken using a polarizing
filterwe wouldnt see the flashing red and white signals
with only the naked eye. Based on his observations, Dr. Caldwell thinks
that these stomatopods may use patterns visible only with polarized
filters for communication.
The research team studied the question of how stomatopods use their polarizing filters during their stay on Aquarius. They observed stomatopods flashing their polarized antennal scales and uropodssignalling to animals in neighboring burrows perhaps? By examining collected animals after the mission was over Dr. Caldwell discovered other species of deep water stomatopods that have different patterns of polarization on their uropods and tail.