The mantis shrimp: Still awesome, but not for the reason you thought

The mantis shrimp is Internet famous for its appearance in an Oatmeal comic — an appearance that centered around the fact that the shrimps' eyes have 16 different color-receptive cones (as opposed to our three). Thus, theoretically, the shrimp should be able to see colors that you and I can't even comprehend, man.

But science giveth and science taketh away. New research, helpfully explained at Nature News by Jessica Morrison, suggests that those extra cones aren't bestowing the mantis shrimp with color sensing super powers, after all. In fact, it seems to see fewer colors than we do, not more.

But science giveth and taketh and then giveth back again, because it still turns out that the mantis shrimp is using a mechanism for color vision that nobody has ever documented before. It's something crazy and new. It's just that, for the mantis shrimp, all that awesomeness doesn't translate into majestic rainbows.

Image: 060 – Green Mantis Shrimp, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from nevillewootton's photostream