QBI researchers have uncovered an entirely new form of secret light communication used by mantis shrimp.
The findings may have applications in satellite remote sensing, biomedical imaging, cancer detection, and computer data storage.
Dr Yakir Gagnon, Professor Justin Marshall and colleagues previously showed that mantis shrimp (Gonodactylaceus falcatus) can reflect and detect circular polarising light, an ability extremely rare in nature. Until now, no-one has known what they use it for.
The new study shows the shrimp use circular polarisation as a means to covertly advertise their presence to aggressive competitors.
“In birds, colour is what we’re familiar with and in the ocean, reef fish display with colour – this is a form of communication we understand. What we’re now discovering is there’s a completely new language of communication,” said Professor Marshall.
Linear polarised light is seen only in one plane, whereas circular polarised light travels in a spiral – clockwise or anti-clockwise – direction. Humans cannot perceive polarised light without the help of special lenses, often found in sunglasses.
Circular polarised light a form of secret communication
“We’ve determined that a mantis shrimp displays circular polarised patterns on its body, particularly on its legs, head and heavily armoured tail,” he said. “These are the regions most visible when it curls up during conflict.”
“These shrimps live in holes in the reef,” said Professor Marshall. “They like to hide away; they’re secretive and don’t like to be in the open.”
They are also “very violent”, Professor Marshall adds. “They’re nasty animals. They’re called mantis shrimps because they have a pair of legs at the front used to catch their prey, but 40 times faster than the preying mantis. They can pack a punch like a .22 calibre bullet and can break aquarium glass. Other mantis shrimp know this and are very cautious on the reef.”
Researchers dropped a mantis shrimp into a tank with two burrows to hide in: one reflecting unpolarised light and the other, circular polarised light. The shrimps chose the unpolarised burrow 68 per cent of the time – suggesting the circular polarised burrow was perceived as being occupied by another mantis shrimp.
“If you essentially label holes with circular polarising light, by shining circular polarising light out of them, shrimps won’t go near it,” said Professor Marshall. “They know – or they think they know – there’s another shrimp there.
Secret light communication may help cancer detection
The findings may help doctors to better detect cancer. “Cancerous cells do not reflect polarised light, in particular circular polarising light, in the same way as healthy cells,” said Professor Marshall. Cameras equipped with circular polarising sensors may detect cancer cells long before the human eye can see them.
Another study involving Professor Marshall, published in the same edition of Current Biology, showed that linear polarised light is used as a form of communication by fiddler crabs.
Crabs use polarised light to communicate too
Fiddler crabs (Uca stenodactylus) live on mudflats, a very reflective environment, and they behave differently depending on the amount of polarisation reflected by objects, the researchers found.
The Latest on: Secret light language
via Google News
The Latest on: Secret light language
- Cameron recognized for 'transforming learning'on March 5, 2021 at 7:32 pm
For its work transforming learning and thinking outside the box, Cameron Dual Language Elementary received recognition as one of the 2020 Schools Transforming Learning award winners presented by N2 ...
- The True Story Of World War II's Code Talkerson March 4, 2021 at 1:49 pm
The true story of World War II's code talkers is a tale about information and war and how a complex Native American language birthed an unbreakable code.
- Masterpiece ‘A Sun’ Combines Compassion With Controlon March 3, 2021 at 5:16 pm
In a year ravished by the global pandemic, when millions have lost jobs, loved ones and mobility, an intimate family drama from Taiwan with profound lessons on survival appears particularly ...
- Carl Zimmer: The secret life of a coronaviruson February 28, 2021 at 11:12 am
Carl Zimmer writes that the coronavirus has killed millions and reshaped life on earth. And we still don't know what to make of it.
- Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Committed takes the light out of Parison February 27, 2021 at 4:00 pm
Except that the author, Viet Thanh Nguyen, was too startlingly brilliant to ignore. The Sympathizer flushed colour back into those iconic photos of the fall of Saigon, and recast the worn lessons of ...
- Viet Thanh Nguyen’s ‘Sympathizer’ sequel ‘Committed’ turns off the light in Parison February 27, 2021 at 2:32 pm
In 2015, a professor at the University of Southern California published his first novel titled “The Sympathizer.” The story was a cerebral work of historical fiction and political satire cleverly ...
- The Secret Life of a Coronaviruson February 27, 2021 at 6:37 am
An oily, 100-nanometer-wide bubble of genes has killed more than two million people and reshaped the world. Scientists don’t quite know what to make of it.
- What Harry's body language says when he's asked about the Queen and Williamon February 26, 2021 at 8:02 am
But his warm disposition when talking about his young family seemed to change when he was asked about his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II and his brother Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, ...
- Book review: ‘Sympathizer’ sequel turns off the light in Parison February 25, 2021 at 8:22 pm
In 2015, a professor at the University of Southern California published his first novel called “The Sympathizer.” The story was a cerebral work of historical fiction and political satire cleverly ...
- Does it again! Princess Anne praised after ‘shining light on great cause’on February 24, 2021 at 1:00 pm
PRINCESS ANNE has been praised for "shining a light on a great cause" after taking part in a webinar hosted by an educational charity of which she is a patron.
via Bing News