A Woman Was Discovered To See 99 Million More Colours Than The Rest Of Us
To people’s amazement, it was discovered that a woman has the ability to see an extra 99 million colours than the rest of us. For the past 25 years, neuroscientists in the UK have been looking for someone like this and they finally found her.
The thing that she has, that we don’t, is an extra cone receptor in her eye. Okay, please let us be a bit more specific. Humans, for the most part, have three types of cone receptors inside their eyes. These are used to see colour. There’s one to see green light, another one for red and another one for blue. As light hits the eye at different frequencies, it is interpreted by these cones to give us colours. The rest of the many other colours than the ones mentioned above are made when the frequency of the light is not of one of the three mentioned colours, and thus is translated as a combination of two of those, depending on where the frequency fits.
Now, we also have rod receptors in our eyes, used to see light intensity, but that’s not here nor there. What this “miracle” lady has is an extra colour receptor, an extra cone. And with it, she can see an additional 99 million colours by combining it with the other three that all of us have. The combinations are, of course, endless and literally indescribable. She is what’s known as a tetrachromat whereas the rest of us are trichromats.
On the other hand, there are people who are colour blind. These people are known as dichromats. These people also have three types of cone receptors but one of them isn’t working. And because of that, they can’t see one of the primary colours like red, green or blue, and the other colours that go in combination with it. Dogs, for instance, don’t have the cones necessary to see red and thus see it as brown. All in all, dichromats see about 10,000 shades of colour.
However, there seems to be a connection between dichromats and tetrachromats. It seems that colour blind men, while they have two working cones and one that doesn’t, their mothers and daughters have three that work and one that doesn’t. Since the late 80’s, John Mollon has been looking for women who have four cones that all work. Mollon estimated that about 12% of the female population should be a tetrachromat. But the overwhelming majority of them only have 3 cones working.
However, one woman was shown to have all of them working. But as the scientists put it, the reason for why there aren’t many more who can see is because the fourth cone receptors need to be stimulated. But since we live in a trichromat world, that rarely happens. Nevertheless, can you imagine the possibilities?