Marsupials Not "Poor Cousins"

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Marsupials not just "poor cousins" according to a report on the "Science Show" ABC Radio National (Australia) broadcast 11 May 2002. Zoologists at the University of Western Australia studied the honey possum and the dunnart (a small shrew-like creature) and have found that some marsupials have better colour vision than placental mammals, which are supposed to be more developed on the evolutionary scale. Honey possums feed on nectar from flowers that are red and yellow when ripe and green when unripe. Their eyes have four visual pigments, which enables them to see all colours of the rainbow, from red to violet. Dunnarts live on forest floors and live on insects and small invertebrates. Their eyes are well suited for seeing greens and browns.

Prof. Lynne Beazley, who led the study, notes that birds and reptiles also have good colour vision and believes that placental mammals lost some of the special eye pigments needed for colour vision in the course of evolution and then re-evolved them when primates needed to identify ripe fruit. She adds, "it's certainly one up for marsupials, who on the whole have been regarded as rather an inferior group of mammals. And clearly in this case they have a much greater ability than most of the placental mammals."

Editorial Comment: Colour vision not only requires the right visual pigments but the brain-power to process the colour information at the same time. One without the other is useless. Some invertebrates have colour vision as well as birds, reptiles and mammals. It is absurd to think that colour vision evolved naturally many times over. Dont' be surprised an intelligent creator gave each creature the right amount of colour vision and back up brain power for its needs. (Ref. vision, eyes, marsupials)

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