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Retinal Anatomy of a New Species of Bresiliid Shrimp from a Hydrothermal Vent Field on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

David J. Nuckley, Robert N. Jinks, Barbara-Anne Battelle, Erik D. Herzog, Leonard Kass, George H. Renninger and Steven C. Chamberlain
Biological Bulletin
Vol. 190, No. 1 (Feb., 1996), pp. 98-110
DOI: 10.2307/1542679
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1542679
Page Count: 13
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Retinal Anatomy of a New Species of Bresiliid Shrimp from a Hydrothermal Vent Field on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
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Abstract

A new species of shrimp (Rimicaris sp.) was recently collected from the Snake Pit hydrothermal vent field on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Until the discovery in 1989 that the deep-sea, hydrothermal vent species, Rimicaris exoculata, possessed a hypertrophied dorsal eye, everyone believed that animals recovered from vent environments were blind. Like R. exoculata, Rimicaris sp., a small orange bresiliid shrimp, has an enlarged dorsal eye specialized for detecting light in a very dim environment instead of the expected compound eye. The individual lenses characteristic of a compound eye adapted for imaging have been replaced in Rimicaris sp. by a smooth cornea underlain by a massive array of photosensitive membrane. The number of ommatidia in this species is about the same as in shrimp species that live at the surface; however, the photoreceptors are larger in the deep-sea species and the shape of the photoreceptors is markedly different. The light-sensitive region of the photoreceptor is much larger than those of other shrimp and the rest of the receptor is much smaller than normal. All screening pigment has moved out of the path of incident light to a position below the retina, and the reflecting pigment cells have adapted to form a bright white diffusing screen between and behind the photoreceptors. The ultrastructure of the microvillar array comprising the rhabdom is typical for decapod crustaceans; however, there is a much greater volume density of rhabdom (80% to 85%) than normal. There is no ultrastructural evidence for cyclic rhabdom shedding or renewal. Rimicaris sp. has apparently adapted its visual system to detect the very dim light emitted from the throats of the black smoker chimneys around which it lives.

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