Vision in sharks and rays: opsin diversity and colour vision

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    The visual sense of elasmobranch fishes is poorly studied compared to their bony cousins, the teleosts. Nevertheless, the elasmobranch eye features numerous specialisations that have no doubt facilitated the diversification and evolutionary success of this fascinating taxon. In this review, I highlight recent discoveries on the nature and phylogenetic distribution of visual pigments in sharks and rays. Whereas most rays appear to be cone dichromats, all sharks studied to date are cone monochromats and, as a group, have likely abandoned colour vision on multiple occasions. This situation in sharks mirrors that seen in other large marine predators, the pinnipeds and cetaceans, which leads us to reassess the costs and benefits of multiple cone pigments and wavelength discrimination in the marine environment.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)12-19
    Number of pages8
    JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
    Early online date22 Apr 2020
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


    • Visual pigment
    • Elasmobranch
    • Photoreceptors
    • Retina
    • Visual ecology
    • Chondrichthyes


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