Vision in Annelid Worms

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Science  24 Jun 1977:
Vol. 196, Issue 4297, pp. 1434-1439
DOI: 10.1126/science.196.4297.1434


In a first electrophysiological study of worm vision, electroretinograms were measured in two alciopid worms: Torrea, taken at the surface, and deep-sea Vanadis. Both forms possess a primary retina in the focal plane of the lens, and accessory retinas lying beside the lens. Such accessory retinas occur also in deep sea fishes and cephalopods. In Torrea the primary retina peaks in sensitivity at 400 nanometers, the secondary retina at 560 nanometers. Both together could serve as a depth guage, since 560 nanometers attenuates much faster in seawater than 400 nanometers. The Vanadis eyes peaked in sensitivity at 460 to 480 nanometers, a property shared with deep-sea forms of other phyla; and appropriate, since these wavelengths penetrate seawater most deeply, and also are the wavelengths of maximum bioluminescence.

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