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Warm eyes provide superior vision in swordfishes

Fritsches, K A; Brill, R W and Warrant, Eric LU (2005) In Current Biology 15(1). p.55-58
Abstract
Large and powerful ocean predators such as swordfishes, some tunas, and several shark species are unique among fishes in that they are capable of maintaining elevated body temperatures (endothermy) when hunting for prey in deep and cold water [1-3]. In these animals, warming the central nervous system and the eyes is the one common feature of this energetically costly adaptation [4]. In the swordfish (Xiphias gladius), a highly specialized heating system located in an extraocular muscle specifically warms the eyes and brain up to 10degreesC-15degreesC above ambient water temperatures [2, 5]. Although the function of neural warming in fishes has been the subject of considerable speculation [1, 6, 7], the biological significance of this... (More)
Large and powerful ocean predators such as swordfishes, some tunas, and several shark species are unique among fishes in that they are capable of maintaining elevated body temperatures (endothermy) when hunting for prey in deep and cold water [1-3]. In these animals, warming the central nervous system and the eyes is the one common feature of this energetically costly adaptation [4]. In the swordfish (Xiphias gladius), a highly specialized heating system located in an extraocular muscle specifically warms the eyes and brain up to 10degreesC-15degreesC above ambient water temperatures [2, 5]. Although the function of neural warming in fishes has been the subject of considerable speculation [1, 6, 7], the biological significance of this unusual ability has until now remained unknown. We show here that warming the retina significantly improves temporal resolution, and hence the detection of rapid motion, in fast-swimming predatory fishes such as the swordfish. Depending on diving depth, temporal resolution can be more than ten times greater in these fishes than in fishes with eyes at the same temperature as the surrounding water. The enhanced temporal resolution allowed by heated eyes provides warm-blooded and highly visual oceanic predators, such as swordfishes, tunas, and sharks, with a crucial advantage over their agile, cold-blooded prey. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Current Biology
volume
15
issue
1
pages
55 - 58
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • wos:000226715000025
  • pmid:15649365
  • scopus:11844254744
ISSN
1879-0445
DOI
10.1016/j.cub.2004.12.064
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
f289f8e6-ab41-4c37-9f22-bf31ef822087 (old id 254941)
date added to LUP
2007-09-21 15:57:48
date last changed
2017-11-12 03:26:45
@article{f289f8e6-ab41-4c37-9f22-bf31ef822087,
  abstract     = {Large and powerful ocean predators such as swordfishes, some tunas, and several shark species are unique among fishes in that they are capable of maintaining elevated body temperatures (endothermy) when hunting for prey in deep and cold water [1-3]. In these animals, warming the central nervous system and the eyes is the one common feature of this energetically costly adaptation [4]. In the swordfish (Xiphias gladius), a highly specialized heating system located in an extraocular muscle specifically warms the eyes and brain up to 10degreesC-15degreesC above ambient water temperatures [2, 5]. Although the function of neural warming in fishes has been the subject of considerable speculation [1, 6, 7], the biological significance of this unusual ability has until now remained unknown. We show here that warming the retina significantly improves temporal resolution, and hence the detection of rapid motion, in fast-swimming predatory fishes such as the swordfish. Depending on diving depth, temporal resolution can be more than ten times greater in these fishes than in fishes with eyes at the same temperature as the surrounding water. The enhanced temporal resolution allowed by heated eyes provides warm-blooded and highly visual oceanic predators, such as swordfishes, tunas, and sharks, with a crucial advantage over their agile, cold-blooded prey.},
  author       = {Fritsches, K A and Brill, R W and Warrant, Eric},
  issn         = {1879-0445},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {55--58},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Current Biology},
  title        = {Warm eyes provide superior vision in swordfishes},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2004.12.064},
  volume       = {15},
  year         = {2005},
}