New study sheds light on how and when vision evolved

Oct 29, 2012

The study, which used computer modelling to provide a detailed picture of how and when opsins evolved, sheds light on the origin of sight in animals, including humans.

The of vision remain hotly debated, partly due to inconsistent reports of among the earliest opsin-possessing animals.

Dr Davide Pisani of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences and colleagues at NUI Maynooth performed a computational analysis to test every hypothesis of opsin evolution proposed to date.

The analysis incorporated all available genomic information from all relevant animal lineages, including a newly sequenced group of (Oscarella carmela) and the Cnidarians, a group of animals thought to have possessed the world's earliest eyes.

Using this information, the researchers developed a timeline with an opsin ancestor common to all groups appearing some 700 million years ago. This opsin was considered 'blind' yet underwent key over the span of 11 million years that conveyed the ability to detect light.

Dr Pisani said: "The great relevance of our study is that we traced the earliest origin of vision and we found that it originated only once in animals. This is an astonishing discovery because it implies that our study uncovered, in consequence, how and when vision evolved in humans."

These results are reported in the PNAS journal article 'Metazoan opsin evolution reveals a simple route to animal vision'.

Explore further: Lemurs match scent of a friend to sound of her voice

Related Stories

Thyroid affects color vision

Mar 29, 2011

What part does the thyroid gland have in vision? Thyroid hormone is crucially involved in controlling which visual pigment is produced in the cones. Previously, it was assumed that the colour sensitivity of ...

Beginning to see the light

Sep 29, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have detailed the active form of a protein which they hope will enhance our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of vision, and advance drug design.

Sea urchins see with their whole body

Jun 30, 2011

Many animals have eyes that are incredibly complex – others manage without. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg have shown that sea urchins see with their entire body despite having no eyes at ...

Recommended for you

Lemurs match scent of a friend to sound of her voice

10 hours ago

Humans aren't alone in their ability to match a voice to a face—animals such as dogs, horses, crows and monkeys are able to recognize familiar individuals this way too, a growing body of research shows.

Love-shy panda artificially inseminated

19 hours ago

Britain's only female giant panda, Tian Tian, has been artificially inseminated after failing to mate with her male partner Yang Guang, Edinburgh Zoo said Tuesday.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JVK
2 / 5 (4) Oct 29, 2012
Were it not for the required chemical ecology of adaptive evolution, vision could not have evolved. A blind "opsin ancestor" could no more meet its nutrient chemical requirement for survival than it could find a mate to ensure species survival -- unless a fully functional olfactory/pheromonal processing system was already established. The fact that human nutrient chemical acquisition and mate choice are equally dependent on the evolutionarily conserved gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) suggests olfactory primacy across at least a 700 million year evolutionary continuum of all species, and places visual input in a lesser role in the context of adaptive evolution -- except where evolutionary theorists are involved in perturbations of known biological facts. For example: olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans. http://dx.doi.org...i0.17338

More news stories

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.