No rainbow for grey bamboo sharks: evidence for the absence of colour vision in sharksPublished online on 24. September 2014
No rainbow for grey bamboo sharks: evidence for the absence of colour vision in sharks from behavioural discrimination experiments
V. Schluessel, I. P. Rick, K. Plischke
Despite convincing data collected by microspectrophotometry and molecular biology, rendering sharks colourblind cone monochromats, the question of whether sharks can perceive colour had not been finally resolved in the absence of any behavioural experiments compensating for the confounding factor of brightness. The present study tested the ability of juvenile grey bamboo sharks to perceive colour in an experimental design based on a paradigm established by Karl von Frisch using colours in combination with grey distractor stimuli of equal brightness. Results showed that contrasts but no colours could be discriminated. Blue and yellow stimuli were not distinguished from a grey distractor stimulus of equal brightness but could be distinguished from distractor stimuli of varying brightness. In addition, different grey stimuli were distinguished significantly above chance level from one another. In conclusion, the behavioural results support the previously collected physiological data on bamboo sharks, which mutually show that the grey bamboo shark, like several marine mammals, is a cone monochromate and colourblind.
Journal of Comparative Physiology A, September 2014, DOI 10.1007/s00359-014-0940-0