What makes primates color-recognizable?

Cyanobacteria that changed the earth's environment through photosynthesis for the first time
Cyanobacteria that changed the earth's environment through photosynthesis for the first time

The earth, where countless living organisms live, is covered in all kinds of colors, and we are familiar with and take the colors of nature and animals and plants for granted. In other words, the leaves of the plant are green and the skin of a person is slightly different depending on the race but has a brown or black melanin pigment.

However, the colors of these creatures are by no means coincidental, contain the long history of the Earth, and are closely related to the evolutionary process of living things. In other words, the first photosynthesis by cyanobacteria with green chlorophyll produced a by-product called oxygen, which greatly changed the earth's environment so that many animals and plants could live thereafter. In addition, the melanin pigment in human skin absorbs harmful ultraviolet rays and protects the human body from penetration. This particular color has a decisive influence on the survival of living things on Earth, and it is also a product of long evolution that living things have various body colors depending on the species.

Not only the colors of animals and plants but also the ability of primate animals such as humans or monkeys to distinguish various colors is due to long natural selection and evolution. Humans have the ability to distinguish very many colors based on color vision elements based on the three primary colors of light: red, blue, and green.

There are, of course, animals with more color receptors and more complex color vision systems than humans. For example, butterflies have five or six color receptors, and mandala, which can also see polarized light, has more than ten color receptors. However, most mammals except primates have less than two color receptors, so they cannot properly distinguish various colors.

Dogs have two color vision elements, yellow and blue, so red and green cannot be properly distinguished, so it is very similar to red-green color blindness in human terms. For example, if a trained dog is instructed to throw a red ball and then ask if the red ball stops on the green grass, it may be difficult for the dog to find the ball by sight alone.

It is presumed that primates, including humans, have a better color vision system than other mammals in the past, when their ancestors lived on trees, in the process of judging whether fruits such as apples and bananas were ripe or not by color. . They first identified well-cooked and nutritious fruits with better color vision and explained that the ingested individuals survived through the natural selection process.

However, there are also cognitive scientists who explain the reason why primates have developed the color vision system as it is now. That is, the additional red-green color vision of primates originated from the process of displaying changes in body through color and to better grasp the state and facial expressions of offspring or other individuals. For example, in the case of females, when they are ovulating, their faces and parts of their bodies become more reddish, and in the case of males, the color of the breasts becomes more vivid, so that they can take advantage of the females.

In particular, humans are also called a naked ape, and the red color due to the hemoglobin pigment better reflects changes in health and emotions. Whether it was a process to better differentiate prey or to recognize facial expressions or conditions, the evolution of humans and primates was very much related to the evolution of color vision.

Because humans don't have a complete color perception at birth, newborn babies are not as easy to distinguish colors as blurry vision. In a test of color vision reactions in babies 6 months old or so, infants can see some degree of the full spectrum of colors, but strong reds are relatively easy to distinguish, while desaturated blues or yellows are appropriate. It is said that it was difficult to distinguish. It is known that a person's perception of color is completed only in late adolescence, and gradually deteriorates after the age of 30.

However, human perception of color is not only achieved by the retina of the eye but is actually determined by the action of the brain. Cognitive scientists and neuroscience experts have proven that color perception is due to brain information processing through various experiments.

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