Almut Kelber

Almut Kelber is a professor of Sensory Biology at Lund University, Sweden. After studies at the universities of Mainz, Tübingen and Sussex, and field work on stingless bee vision in southern Brazil, she was a post-doc at the Australian National University before moving to Sweden. Professor Kelber has studied the eyes and visual abilities of a wide range of animals including horses, birds, seals, geckos, frogs, butterflies, moths, bees, damselflies, octopuses and velvet worms. She aims to understand the general principles and evolution of colour vision, and the trade-offs that animals make between colour vision, spatial and temporal resolution, and sensitivity.

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Most complex eyes of any animal

Native to tropical and subtropical waters worldwide, certain species of stomatopod crustacean, aka mantis shrimp – such as those in the superfamilies Gonodactyloidea, Lysiosquilloidea and Hemisquilloidea – are considered to have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom. Their compound eyes, made up of thousands of repeating units called ommatidia, can contain as many as 12–16 different photoreceptors, compared to four in the human eye. For the upper limit of this range, 12 receptors are dedicated to colour analysis (providing a wavelength range of 300–720 nanometres from deep ultraviolet to far red) and the remaining four are used to detect polarised light.