Dragonflies see world in multicolour

Dragonflies may have the best vision in the animal kingdom as their eyes have up to 30 different types of light sensitive proteins, a new study has found.

PTI| Last Updated: Feb 25, 2015, 22:56 PM IST

London: Dragonflies may have the best vision in the animal kingdom as their eyes have up to 30 different types of light sensitive proteins, a new study has found.

Humans have tri-chromatic vision, which means we see colours as a combination of red, blue and green.

This is due to three different types of light-sensitive proteins in our eyes, called opsins.

A new study of 12 dragonfly species has found that each one has no fewer than 11, and some a whopping 30, different visual opsins, 'New Scientist' reported.

Ryo Futahashi of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan, also found dragonflies use different opsins at different ages.

For instance, the larvae of some species that hatch in sand tend to lack blue opsins.

"This is probably because blue light does not reach them easily," he said.

Other studies have found that dragonflies can see ultraviolet on top of blue, green and red. And it is thought that they can recognise polarised light coming off reflective surfaces like water.

"It's likely that they have better colour discrimination than humans," said Futahashi.

The study was published in the journal PNAS.