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Odd Abilities Etc. Of Real-Life Organisms Etc.
Posted: Posted January 24th by chiarizio

In Scientific American magazine for February 2019, (volume 320 Number 2, the one with “How the Brain Reads Faces” on the cover), in the “Advances” department, there is a one-page “Biomimicry” subdepartment on page 12, that’s entitled “Crustacean Camera”.

It’s all about how the mantis shrimp sees polarized light.

They’ve (engineers at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) managed to mimic two of the mantis shrimps’ visual “superpowers”.

One is seeing contrasts between two or more different levels of dim light even in the presence of bright light; while still being able to simultaneously see contrasts between two or more different levels of bright light.

The other is being able to better detect differences in the way light is polarized.

They have discovered that each eye of the mantis shrimp can detect and distinguish polarization in four planes.

Essentially, if the shrimp happens to look straight up, with its belly towards the north and its back toward the south, some of its ommatids would be seeing just light polarized north-south; some would see only light polarized east-west; some would see just light polarized northeast-southwest; and some would see only light polarized northwest-southeast.

They’ve developed a camera that can do similar things to these that the mantis shrimps’ visual system can do, and found out that it can see more clearly in foggy or glare conditions, or monochromatic light, than the human eye can do unaided. They think this might make self-driving cars safer. Or things like that.

I’m going to link the “Alien Senses” thread to this post.

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