April 30, 2013

The Technicolor Tarsier

On Earth, April 30, 2013

You could get lost gazing into the eyes of a tarsier. But these primate peepers are also providing insight into how human vision evolved.

By Melissa Mahoney

To early mammals, the world looked something like the beginning of The Wizard of Oz: colorless. But at some point, a group of primates began seeing reds, greens, and blues—and many shades of pink, yellow, and aquamarine in between. Scientists have long thought that color vision—called trichromacy—developed in primates sometime after they stopped hunting at night and began waking up with the sun.

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Article based on this research:

Melin, Amanda D., et al. "Inferred L/M cone opsin polymorphism of ancestral tarsiers sheds dim light on the origin of anthropoid primates." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 280.1759 (2013): 20130189.

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