Mantis Shrimp and Their Visual Spectrum: Exploring Human Perception and Empathy through Nature Observation


Mantis Shrimp and Their Visual Spectrum: Exploring Human Perception and Empathy through Nature Observation

In the realm of marketing, understanding the complexities of consumer decision-making is paramount. Enter behavioral economics—a fascinating field that explores the irrational yet predictable ways in which humans make choices. In this blog post, we delve into the insights from behavioral economics and cognitive biases that shape consumer behavior, and explore how brands can leverage these principles to design more persuasive marketing strategies.


In relating mantis shrimp's perception to their lifestyle, it is clear that Land has again given further thought to human understanding and relation. Describing the time where he had encountered sea creatures and realizing they did not see him, it led him to a discussion with others of whether an elephant had perception of humans and resulted in humans with regard to the interaction with other races. This strong empathy towards other species is something that many would consider humane, and yet to understand whether an animal's perception is indeed the same as our own could be best understood with comparison. Through landing the symbolism on said animal interaction, it is not hard to mistake Land's speculation – comparing it to his understanding of the mantis shrimp, whose gaze to an unfamiliar blurred and impending object states movement threshold ways of detection.

Land gave an example of this by stating that only when something is somewhat familiar to human vision would it seem important. This led Land to believe it is difficult for humans to consider another animal's perception and is undoubtedly true about another species taking into consideration a human disabled from normal vision. These were the key differences in perception that forced comparison from other species and human beings, and all have been caused by the evolution of very different visual environments, something that can undoubtedly be said for the mantis shrimp.

With detailed account of example and explanation, Land does a remarkable job of distinguishing mantis shrimp differences in visual perception from human beings, everything from what type of light and color, to perception of movement, to object recognition and color communication. Through this, a reader is given clarity to imagine the differences in perception, treating it as though the mantis shrimp is a different form of life and not another organism in the sea. By using comparison to other animals such as cats or canines, the reader is able to understand that there are indeed differences in perception between these animals and humans, and in doing so we don't consider these as much as we would when relating to something taken from human experiment, such as the blind.

There might be some who overlook the initial assumptions on Mantis Shrimp and Their Visual Spectrum, perhaps assuming it was simply written to provide a biological account of the mantis shrimp and its vision. However, what the author did was far more creative. While writing for the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Michael F. Land did a remarkable job at conveying to other scientists how important the mantis shrimp is not only to himself, but also to human beings. Through relevant examples of human perception and the visual spectrum, the mantis shrimp forced the reader to reevaluate empathy and how we interact with different species.

The Visual Spectrum of Mantis Shrimp

Mantis shrimp have a different visual capacity than humans. Contrary to the popular belief that they can see polarized light, it is now known that mantis shrimp are not capable of seeing polarized light. However, they do have a capability of seeing color and light beyond the capacity of the human eye. To put it simply, humans are trichromats. This means that we possess cone cells in our eyes that are sensitive to red, green, and blue light around the same region of the visible spectrum. Mantis shrimp have the same rod and cone cells that we have but have as many as 16 different types of cells. This difference enables them the capacity to perceive color and light differently than can be comprehended by humans. An example of this is ultraviolet light, which can be seen easily by mantis shrimp but cannot be seen by humans. This UV light has shown to be used as artificial signals to get a point across to other shrimp in their species. UV reactive and fluorescent colors have also been noted in mantis shrimp, and scientists believe the evolution of such colors stems from the need to differentiate from foreground and background colors or communication with other shrimp. UV fluorescent torches have been used in natural settings to prove the existence of mantis shrimp in such locations and have been quite effective in doing so compared to traditional forms of finding mantis shrimp with just a set of goggles and determination to find them.

Humans' Perceptual Filters and the Brain

Once energy is detected and encoded by the eyes, the information is then relayed to the brain where decisions about colour, shape, object, and size are all made. As fabulous and intricate as the process appears to be, the actual visual information processed by the brain is far more limited than we could imagine. In fact, what we actually 'see' is a much-simplified version of what is actually out there. Gathering data from the light that enters the eyes, the brain sorts out the visual information and separates it into two categories: object recognition and space perception.

The former involves determining colour and shape of the given object, after which it retrieves information from previous encounters and thus compares the recent find to the memory data bank. Should no matching information be found on the said object, 'shortcuts' are taken and best assumptions are made. This can lead to quite a skewed interpretation of the given information. An example of this would be an individual at an astronomy lecture trying to determine the appearance and result of a black hole in space. Although the complex information is presented, the individual's brain will automatically compare the information to something more familiar, thus altering the intended message. This can also be connected to the topic of painting a picture, where Warburton suggests that with a small amount of detail, we can often get a much clearer picture.

The Importance of Observing Nature for Understanding and Empathy

Throughout the preceding discussion, the importance of direct observation of animal antics and appearance has been stressed, and it has been shown also that a surprisingly simple animal has unsuspected complexities in its life adaptations. In some cases, it has been possible to throw light upon the habits and motives of creatures remotely related to some of our own. These instances, taken in conjunction with recent data obtained by studies in the field of comparative psychology, forecast a new chapter in the science of animal behavior. Much of that behavior which we have hitherto assumed to be largely mechanical in its response to the environment will need reinterpreting in terms of conscious action, and the elucidation of the conscious and instinctive behavior patterns of animals other than man is a problem ripe for scientific inquiry.

It would seem then that a re-examination of how animals appear to us is not altogether time wasted. Our recognition of the similarity between the mantis shrimp and one of the higher Crustacea at the same time increases our understanding of that Crustacean. The quite different sort of life that the mantis shrimp leads has been forced upon it by its environment, and comparison with its more or less obvious relatives can hardly fail eventually to throw light upon the forces governing Crustacean evolution.


As discussed in the introduction, the mantis shrimp has long been hailed as an example of natural art and beauty through its astonishing use of colour and appearance. Through a detailed study of their visual perception and choice of colour, we can now hope to understand just why they display such vivid colours. Through biological study done in a lab, it would be possible to ascertain the true colours of both their bodies and their surrounding habitat. We can then begin to relate this to colour in human art, possessions, and other aesthetic items/output. Coming to an understanding that the mantis shrimp experiences colour in a way that is not possible for humans, we may begin to question the true importance of colour in our lives. Bold statements made by scientists, such as the one in the introduction, may be met with a more solid answer. We could question whether a certain colour is indeed a waste of time or possibly a negative influence from learning that the mantis shrimp's schooling colour is used as a precursor to aggressive interaction.

The research presented by this essay revolves around the unique visual perception of the mantis shrimp and the possible implications this has on human empathy and society. Mantis shrimp see a world so utterly alien to our own that it is only through scientific enquiry and a concerted effort of imagination that we can hope to understand them or relate their experiences to our own understanding. However, in studying the mantis shrimp, we can learn a great deal not only about their ways of life but also our own.

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