Volume 9 (2013) Pages 85-89
Absorption spectra of visual pigments are adaptively tuned to optimize informational capacity in most visual systems. Our recent investigation of the eyes of the jumping spider reveals an apparent exception: the absorption characteristics of a visual pigment cause defocusing of the image, reducing visual acuity generally in a part of the retina. However, the amount of defocus can theoretically provide a quantitative indication of the distance of an object. Therefore, we proposed a novel mechanism for depth perception in jumping spiders based on image defocus. Behavioral experiments revealed that the depth perception of the spider depended on the wavelength of the ambient light, which affects the amount of defocus because of chromatic aberration of the lens. This wavelength effect on depth perception was in close agreement with theoretical predictions based on our hypothesis. These data strongly support the hypothesis that the depth perception mechanism of jumping spiders is based on image defocus.