The Origins of Colour Vision

New evidence has emerged that colour vision existed 300 million years ago

An ancient fossilised fish eye could hold the key to the origins of colour vision. In an exciting development, scientists have discovered evidence of rod and cone cells in the retina of the eye of a prehistoric fish called the spiny shark. This unique find was discovered in Kansas, where palaeontologists have discovered a very well-preserved site. To find an eye is unusual because the soft tissue of the eye is one of the first areas to disintegrate. Analysis of the eye tissue uncovered the first record of mineralised rods and cones in the eye of a fossil. This indicated that the fish was probably able to see in low light using the rod cells of the retina, and in daylight by using the cone cells of the retina. Interestingly, vision itself is thought to have existed for at least 520 million years. This discovery is the first direct evidence that colour vision existed as far back as 300 million years ago.

For more information on colour vision or information on the retina of the eye, please visit the “Eye Conditions” page on our website, or call Sydney Ophthalmic Specialists and speak with one of our Ophthalmologists on (02) 9241-2913. To read the full article on the origins of colour vision and this exciting development, please visit the ABC website