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The snail-smashing, fish-spearing, eye-popping mantis shrimp

4 minutes

How the mantis shrimp’s six-pupiled eyes put 20/20 vision to shame

One of nature’s most physiologically fascinating creatures, mantis shrimp are not only the fastest attackers in the animal kingdom, but they also possess what might be the world’s most interesting and impressive set of eyes. Each mantis shrimp eye has three ‘pupils’, with receptors for 12 distinct colours – yet another world record. But perhaps the most amazing aspect of mantis shrimp eyes are their ability to detect polarised light – largely invisible to humans – which they use to signal to other mantis shrimp that a burrow is occupied from afar, preventing close-quarters showdowns to the death. Taking the mantis shrimp’s lead, scientists are hoping to use a camera that detects light polarisation to catch certain kinds of cancer early.

Video by KQED Science and PBS Digital Studios

Producer: Elliott Kennerson

Narrator and Writer: Amy Standen

Video/Music

What happens when rock stardom doesn’t quite work out?

10 minutes

ORIGINAL
Video/Astronomy

Finding alien life raises huge ethical questions. Finding we’re alone does, too

6 minutes

Video/Demography & Migration

On the US-Mexico border, loved ones on both sides can see each other but cannot touch

12 minutes

Idea/Space Exploration

To find aliens, we must think of life as we don’t know it

Ramin Skibba

Video/Mathematics

Going from A to B isn’t always a straight line – but it can be very good fun

2 minutes

Essay/Human Evolution

Sex makes babies

As far as we can tell, no other animal knows this. Did our understanding of baby-making change the course of human history?

Holly Dunsworth & Anne Buchanan

Video/Cosmology

We are born of supernovas – our spectacular and totally ordinary origin story

4 minutes

Idea/History of Science

The most wonderful words in science: ‘We have no idea… yet!’

Daniel Whiteson

Essay/Evolution

Aliens in our midst

The ctenophore’s brain suggests that, if evolution began again, intelligence would re-emerge because nature repeats itself

Douglas Fox