Slimy superheroes

They may have a tough time wooing princesses, but new research reveals a princely ocular skill that sets frogs apart

03 Mar 2017 by Selina Powell

CooperVision MPUNew research has revealed that frogs have better night vision than any other animal. 

A study from researchers at Lund University, in Sweden, shows that the amphibians can see in colour when humans are not able to see anything at all.

The research, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, found that, as a result of possessing a second type of rod photoreceptors, frogs and toads are able to use colour information right at their visual threshold. 

Humans, who only have one set of rod photoreceptors, can only see shades of grey when it becomes too dark for the photoreceptors to send signals. 

Professor Almut Kelber told OT that the research answered a longstanding question in visual physiology. 

“The function of the second rod type in frogs and toads had not been known before, and it was not clear whether they could be used for colour vision,” she explained.

Further research will focus on whether all types of frogs and toads have exceptional night vision. 

“The existence of these special rods has only been proven for a very few species of toads and frogs. We do not know if they exist in all species, specifically in the day-active species,” Professor Kelber concluded.

Image credit: Ren West

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