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You"ve most likely heard the old "dogs can only see black and white" myth—or perhaps you"ve heard the more modern-day interpretation, "dogs can only see in shades of gray." no of these is true. However it is true that other pets see shade differently 보다 we do, sometimes in means we can"t even really understand.

You are watching: Can animals see in the dark better than humans

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First, a short overview of how human eyes work. In bespeak for us to see, irradiate rays should be bent, or "refracted," so the they deserve to reach the retina. Once the light reaches the retina, it"s picked up by millions of "photoreceptors," or light-sensitive smashville247.nets, referred to as cones and rods. These cones and also rods transform the irradiate waves into details your brain can process, like color, shape, and motion.

Basically, rods translate light, and also cones translate colors. Animals that room truly colorblind fully lack cones, and also animals that have the right to only see throughout the day completely lack rods—but this extremes space uncommon, and most pets have a mix of cones and also rods.

So how do animal eyes different from human being eyes?


1. Cats and also dogs don"t watch as countless colors however have a more comprehensive field the vision and also see much better at night

Whereas humans have actually three color-receptor hat in our eyes, dogs only have two—they"re missing the one the detects red. Therefore it"s true that dogs don"t check out as many colors as us, but they"re no colorblind; it"s just that they just see shades the blue and yellow. This is true for cat as well, and also actually for most mammals in the world.

We can see more colors than they do, however dogs and also cats have more rods than us, definition that they"re better able to check out at night. And before you begin bragging, save in psychic that people aren"t at the optimal of the color-vision chain, either.

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2. Some insects have the right to see in ultraviolet

Like ns said, humans have actually three color-receptor hat in our eyes, and we often tend to think the we have the right to see every the colour there space to be seen. Yet actually, there room other pets that have an ext cones and see far an ext colors 보다 we do.

Bees and also butterflies, for example, have 4 color-receptor cones. They deserve to see an amazing spectrum the colors, including ultraviolet colors. (On the other hand, lock don"t see lot in the method of detail.) The photoreceptors in their eyes that make this possible are important, because many varieties of flowers have ultraviolet patterns on their petals—these occupational like a runway strip for a plane, enabling the bees and also butterflies to zero in top top the nectar they desire to eat.

These extra shade receptors might likewise be advantageous for warning coloration (which is when animals display bold trends or colors come ward turn off predators—for a refresher, check out last year"s popular music Sci post about animal coloration).


3. Some snakes use thermal sensing to "see"

Pythons, boas, rattlesnakes, and other members that the snake household known as pit vipers space able to watch in infrared, which method that lock "see" in warmth signatures (also recognized as heat sensing). Lock have developed special pits located between their eyes and also nostrils that space able to sense minute temperature changes—meaning the it have the right to be pitch black out, yet a snake will know if a warmth body approaches. (Check out the video above for a show of this.) your infrared vision is for this reason accurate, they can detect food at ranges of up to one meter and can finding temperature changes as specific as 0.002 levels centigrade.


4. Some animals (unlike humans) have the right to see colors in ~ night

The color receptor hat in person eyes avoid working when it gets darker than half-moonlight. By utilizing the rods in our eyes, fairly than the cones, we can still see, however only in shades of gray. This made sense for people evolutionarily, however other animals still require to be able to see colors in ~ night.

Take the gecko, for instance: their eyes have progressed to be up to 350 times more sensitive to shade at night than ours. This is necessary for geckos, since their eye actually have actually no rods in ~ all—so instead, the cones in your eyes have advanced to become an ext rod-like: much longer and an ext sensitive.

Some other pets that deserve to see shade at night are elephant hawkmoths, i beg your pardon can uncover flowers by color as quickly as your butterfly cousins do during the day, and also several types of nocturnal woolly lemurs, which can pick out a certain shade of eco-friendly that scientists believe signals young leaves through the highest protein content.

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5. The mantis shrimp sees an ext colors than any kind of other animal

Finally, we pertained to the king of the color-seeing kingdom: the mantis shrimp.

As compared to humans" measly 3 color-receptive cones, the mantis shrimp has 16 color-receptive cones, can detect ten times much more color 보다 a human, and also probably sees much more colors than any kind of other pet on the planet. (!!) They deserve to see in ultraviolet, infrared, and even polarized light. Not just that, yet their eyes room on different stalks and are able come move individually of each other, meaning they"re able to keep an eye watching the end for predators and prey in two different directions at once—and in more colors than we can also conceptualize.

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Besides having actually the most incredible shade vision on the planet, mantis shrimp are likewise terrifyingly deadly: your club-like appendages urgently beneath your bodies (like a praying mantis"s) have the right to strike at the rate of a .22 caliber bullet—or 50 times faster than the blink of an eye.