The world nearly has an infinite number of colors, but not all of them are distinguishable by our human eye. However, a tetrachromat human was found by scientists who can see 99 million colors more than the regular eye.
Twelve percent of females are said to be tetrachromats, but most, if not all, of them, are “weak.” That may soon be proven otherwise as a neuroscientist from Newcastle University named Gabriele Jordan, along with her colleagues, found a “strong tetrachromat” woman.
Human Super Vision
The woman, a doctor in northern England, is only known as cDa29 in Jordan’s study. The experiment included women, believed to be tetrachromats, who are placed in a dark room where three colored circles of light are flashed into their eyes. It was only cDa29 who can consistently distinguish faint changes in color while other weak tetrachromats cannot.
While it is a remarkable discovery, the study is not yet published and peer-reviewed. In the meantime, Jordan and the team’s research are still a work in progress that needs more tests before deemed verified.
Wait, What is a Tetrachromat Human?
The human eye can see 10 million colors with our three cone cells, those specialized retinal cells that contain pigments in varying spectral sensitivities. Our perception of color begins with those three cone cells that are sensitive to three spectra which result to a trichromatic color vision making us trichromats.
However, it is revealed by theories of scientists around 1940s that some humans have four cone cells making them possess tetrachromacy. Basically, the tetrachromat human has four independent channels that convey color information. This means they, like fish, reptiles and diural birds, can see 99 million times more than regular eyes.
Moreover, there is a reason why men only see red while women can see scarlet, ruby, crimson, maroon and cardinal. It goes more than men’s alleged naivety of these colors’ existence as science says the males actually see lesser color than females.
What gives women the extra color sensitivity is the additional X in their chromosomes, while men only have one X chromosome. That is why more women are also found to be tetrachromats.
But just because they are tetrachromats does not necessarily mean they can see more colors. According to a published paper by Nagy, Heyneman & Eisner in 1981, a weak tetrachromat “lacks the post-receptoral capacity to transmit four truly independent color signals” making them see the world the same as the regular trichromats.
Meanwhile, studies can also be challenging as we are “tuned to a world of the trichromat,” says University of Washington vision researcher Jay Neitz.
Ultimately, the progressing study of the “strong” tetrachromat human cDa29 can be a scientific breakthrough to the possibility of some of us who may have super vision. Who knows, you might be one of them.