Spectral sensitivity of vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops sabaeus) and the issue of catarrhine trichromacy

Authors

  • Gerald H. Jacobs,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA and Sepulveda VA Medical Center, Sepulveda, CA
    • Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106
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  • Jay Neitz,

    1. Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA and Sepulveda VA Medical Center, Sepulveda, CA
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  • Michael A. Crognale,

    1. Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA and Sepulveda VA Medical Center, Sepulveda, CA
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  • Gary L. Brammer

    1. Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA and Sepulveda VA Medical Center, Sepulveda, CA
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Abstract

Several genera of platyrrhine monkeys show significant polymorphism of color vision. By contrast, catarrhine monkeys have usually been assumed to have uniform trichromatic color vision. However, the evidential basis for this assumption is quite limited. To study this issue further, spectral sensitivity functions were obtained from vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops sabaeus) using the technique of electroretinographic flicker photometry. Results from a chromatic adaptation experiment indicated that each of the twelve subjects had two classes of cone pigment in the 540/640 nm portion of the spectrum. That result strongly suggests that this species has routine trichromatic color vision. Comparison of the spectral sensitivity functions obtained from vervets and from similarly-tested humans further indicates that the cone complements of the two species are very similar. Results from this investigation add further support to the idea that there are fundamental differences in the genetic mechanisms underlying color vision in platyrrhine and catarrhine monkeys.

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