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J Gen Physiol. 1940 Jul 20;23(6):709-17.

THE SENSIBILITY OF THE NOCTURNAL LONG-EARED OWL IN THE SPECTRUM.

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  • 1Laboratory of Biophysics, Columbia University, New York.

Abstract

Infrared radiation (750-1500 mmicro) produces no iris contraction in the typically nocturnal long-eared owl even when the energy content is millions of times greater than that of green light which easily elicits a pupil change. The energies in different parts of the visible spectrum required for a minimal iris response yield a spectral visibility curve for the owl which is the same as the human visibility curve at low light intensities. Functionally, the owl's vision thus corresponds to the predominantly rod structure of its retina, and the idea that nocturnal owls have a special type of vision sensitive to infrared radiation for seeing in the woods at night is erroneous.

PMID:
19873186
[PubMed]
PMCID:
PMC2237955
Free PMC Article
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