Cats May See Things That Are Invisible to Us

Dogs and reindeer, too

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 19, 2014 6:45 AM CST

(Newser) – If you saw the world through the eyes of your pet, you'd very likely be seeing a lot more than you currently do. That according to new research that has found that cats, dogs, and select other animals may be able to see things that are invisible to the human eye. That's because they're able to see UV light, according to a paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. While we've known for a century that many invertebrates (Discovery News gives bees as an example) see UV, it has long been assumed that the majority of mammals had lenses like our own, which block UV from reaching the retina, says study co-author Ronald Douglas.

The researchers came to a new conclusion by reviewing the eyes of dead mammals, then measuring how much light passed through the lens to the retina. LiveScience reports some animals' lenses permitted some UV light to pass through, indicating they can detect UV. As for what they're privy to that we're not, it's both appetizing and not: patterns on flowers that reveal the presence of nectar, and a urine-marked landscape. Those sights would be put to good use: The urine trails could signal the presence of prey, for instance. As far as predators go, reindeer are able to see polar bears against snow when a human might not, as snow reflects UV, and white fur doesn't, explains Douglas. So add reindeer to the list, along with rodents, hedgehogs, bats, ferrets, and okapis. (In other animal news, an ancient dog graveyard has been unearthed.)

These eyes may see things you can't.
These eyes may see things you can't.   (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito/File)
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