Tetrachromatic Humans See 100 Times More Colors

in science on (#2TEH)
story imageThe same genetic mutation that makes people color-blind, can allow a small portion of women to perceive 100 times as many shades of colors as the rest of us, up to a potential 99 million. The mutations, when found on both X-chromosomes, can cause development of a 4th cone cell in a photosensitive layer in the back of the eye that responds to specific wavelengths of light. This increased visual acuity has been found most substantial in mid to long-wavelength, or "reddish", spectral components.

Lots of animals are tetrachromats, including birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and insects, but only a handful of human tetrachromats have been identified since 2012. This increased visual ability does come with a disadvantage of offspring having a high likelihood of color-blindness. Continued research may help scientists find a way to improve the vision of the (much larger) portion of the population that suffers from color-blindness.

More information on scientific studies of human tetrachromacy can be found here.

Re: Let's hear it for genetic mutation (Score: 1)

by kerrany@pipedot.org on 2014-10-21 16:44 (#2TJF)

100 internet points for the man who used logic plus science to make an educated guess, and got it right: sickle cell is a genetic mutation which enables the victim to get malaria and have less severe symptoms, increasing the carrier's chances of survival and messing with the parasite's life cycle. Evolution is a bitch, though. If two people with the gene have 4 kids, one of those kids will likely get the disease associated with it, sickle cell anemia, and be more vulnerable to malaria. It's a net win for people living in a malarial area, but the double-carriers still get a raw deal.
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