Feeds

Of technicolour lungfish

The colourful world of living fossils

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The Australian lungfish, often described as a living fossil, has probably been living in a world of blazing colour since before the dinosaurs arose.

Research from the University of Queensland has identified genes for five colour pigments, despite the fact that vision was always assumed to be of little importance to the fish. By contrast, humans can only detect three pigments - red, green and blue.

Colour vision is controlled by photoreceptors in the retina called cones. Rods handle the night vision. Lungfish still retain five kinds of cone including two that have been lost by mammals. The lungfish's cones are also tuned to longer wavelengths than in other fish, according to postgraduate researcher Helen Bailes.

"We keep discovering ways in which these animals are quite different from other fish," she says. "Their eyes seem designed to optimise both sensitivity and colour vision with large cells containing different visual pigments."

For instance, the photoreceptive cells, which house the visual pigments, are bigger in lungfish than for any other vertebrate, probably making them more sensitive to light.

"Lungfish are very large, slow-moving fish, so vision was always assumed to be of little importance. This work may change that theory."

The Australian lungfish is the most primitive of the living lungfish, a species that has survived for over 100m years, thus earning the name living fossil.

They are important because they are the closest relative of the first creatures that left the seas and began to colonise land for the first time. This makes them the best indicators of what life was like for one of our earliest ancestors.

Bailes now hopes behavioural research can find out how these fish are using their eyes for colour vision in the wild. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
HUGE SHARK as big as a WWII SUBMARINE died out, allowing whales to exist
Who'd win a fight: Megalodon or a German battleship?
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.