This butterfly has super-powered color vision

March 15, 2016, 2:35 p.m.
Graphium sarpedon butterfly species
Photo: Matee Nuserm/Shutterstock

The common bluebottle butterfly (Graphium sarpedon) has an incredible ability to spot color. Butterfly species need to be able to detect colors with precision because their diet relies on flowering plants. But this particular butterfly species takes the ability to see color to new levels.

According to Science Magazine, each of this butterfly's eyes "contains at least 15 different types of photoreceptors, the light-detecting cells required for color vision. Most insect species have only three classes of photoreceptors. Even humans have only three cones, yet we still see millions of colors."

We can see millions of colors, sure, but this species of butterfly can see colors we can only imagine. The ability to see such subtle color variations must come in handy for this colorful butterfly. The researchers suspect they evolved so many different photoreceptors to be able to detect specific things in their environment, such as being able to see the blue of a male rival against a blue sky.

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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.