Scientists at the University of Queensland have developed an ultraviolet "television" designed to better understand how animals see the world.
Until now, a standard display mounted on a device such as a television or monitor has always been used to study animal vision. But no one has been able to test ultraviolet vision, the ability to see wavelengths of light less than 400 nanometers.
A television for animals
Doctor Samuel Powell, of the Queensland Brain Institute's Marshall lab, said that this new technology will help unlock the secrets of sight in all kinds of animals such as fish, birds and insects.
A “human” television uses three colors (red, green and blue) to create images. The newly designed displays have five, including purple and ultraviolet. Using them it will be possible to show animals simple shapes, to test their ability to distinguish colors or their perception of movement.
We affectionately call it 'UV-TV'Samuel Powell
I doubt anyone would want one in their home
The pet TV is not an object that we will see in the house. You would need to wear sunglasses and sunscreen while looking at it, and the resolution is pretty low (8 x 12 pixels in a 4 x 5cm area). No, you will not let your cat watch ultraviolet Amazon Prime Video.
Dr. Karen Cheney of UQ's School of Biological Sciences said that "ultraviolet television" will allow researchers to expand our understanding of animal biology.
Bees use UV patterns on flowers to detect nectar, for example, and fish can recognize individuals using UV facial patterns.
The first discoveries come precisely from the study of the vision of the clownfish (the protagonist of the Nemo cartoon). Unlike humans, clownfish have UV-sensitive vision.
Using this sort of "ultraviolet television", researchers have already shown that the white stripes on anemone fish also reflect UV rays.
It is likely that UV color signals can be used by these fish to recognize each other and be involved in signaling dominance within their social group.
Who knows what other discoveries can now be made about how some animals behave, interact and think.