Do animals see in colour?

Cone cells in the eyes are responsible for recognising colour, and different animals have between one and 16 types of cones. The more types of cones an animal has, the more colours it can see

Raccoons have one type of cone cell and are known as mono-chromatic, meaning they see in black and white. Most nocturnal animals have similar vision, as being awake during the dark makes being able to see colours fairly pointless.

Some animals are di-chromatic, possessing two types of cone cells in their eyes. This means they can detect two colours of light and mixtures of those two. These animals can see green and blue, but not red light. This is the kind of vision that dogs have.


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Humans and other apes have three types of cones, giving us a larger visual spectrum than many other mammals.

Some animals have more cone types than humans. The mantis shrimp has 12 different types of colour-detecting cones, but even though this is four times more than a human, their ability to discriminate between colours is limited.

The large number of cone types does however allow the mantis shrimpy to quickly compare prey of different shades and differentiate between animals in front of them.


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