Royal Society Publishing

Uniformity of colour vision in Old World monkeys

Gerald H. Jacobs , Jess F. Deegan


It is often assumed that all Old World monkeys share the same trichromatic colour vision, but the evidence in support of this conclusion is sparse as only a small fraction of all Old World monkey species have been tested. To address this issue, spectral sensitivity functions were measured in animals from eight species of Old World monkey (five cercopithecine species, three colobine species) using a non–invasive electrophysiological technique. Each of the 25 animals so examined had spectrally well–separated middl– and long–wavelength cone pigments. Cone pigments maximally sensitive to short wavelengths were also detected, implying the presence of trichromatic colour vision. Direct comparisons of the spectral sensitivity functions of Old World monkeys suggest there are no significant variations in the spectral positions of the cone pigments underlying the trichromatic colour vision of Old World monkeys.