Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dogs and cats might be able to see in ultraviolet

Comparison of what bees and humans see
Light is made up by a wide spectrum of colors. The visible light humans can see goes from red to violet. Other animals see other wavelengths, and we know bees, birds, fish, some reptiles, mice, and bats can see ultraviolet light.

Why does it differ between the species? Well, as you can see from the illustration to the right, bees can pick up a lot of wavelengths that we can't see. They use it to see colors or patterns on plants that can lead them to nectar. It is believed that reindeer use ultraviolet light to see polar bears and other arctic threats that otherwise blend in with the snow.

Our eyes block it to improve visual acuity. That means, we have higher resolution vision and we are better at seeing details. The downside is that we don't see well in the dark.

A group of researchers at City University of London have compared sights of a large number of mammals, and found that hedgehogs, dogs, cats, and ferrets all see a wider spectrum of ultraviolet wavelengths than we do.

So, maybe when a dog or cat goes crazy over nothing, they see something that's not visible to us. Spooky thought, isn't it?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

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