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The retinal topography of three species of coleoid cephalopod: significance for perception of polarized light

By Christopher M. Talbot and Justin N. Marshall


The retinal topography of three species of coleoid cephalopod (one cuttlefish, one squid and one octopus) was investigated to examine and compare the structure, density and organization of the photoreceptors. The aim was to determine if there were areas of increased cell density and/or cell specialization that might be related to lifestyle or phylogeny. The orientation of photoreceptors around the curved surface of the retina was also mapped to reveal how the overall arrangement of cell microvilli might enable the perception of polarized light stimuli. It was found that all species possessed an increase in photoreceptor density in a horizontal streak approximately placed at the position of a potential horizon in the habitat. The overall arrangement of photoreceptor microvillar arrangements followed lines of latitude and longitude in a global projection that has been rotated by 90°. This arrangement seems to map polarization sensitivities on the outside world in a vertical and horizontal grid. The potential significance of this and other retinal specializations is discussed in the context of phylogenetic and habitat differences between species

Topics: Articles
Publisher: The Royal Society
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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