Is Visible Light a Prerequisite for the Evolution of Complex Neural Systems?
Damian Moran (Vision Group, Department of Biology, Lund University)
The Cambrian Explosion is a period in the fossil record associated with rapid diversification of animal forms, and is coincident with the appearance of eyes. The development of eyes and acute visual perception was probably a key driver of animal diversification due to the strong selective pressures exerted by visual predation and predator avoidance. Brain and behavioural complexity likely increased in proportion to the visual processing capability of animals. Do information channels other than light have the capability of driving massive evolutionary diversification of brains, body shapes and behaviour? Would we expect complex life to evolve on dark planets? Is carbon based life as we know it constrained to only being able to perceive the visible part of the EM spectrum? We will discuss these topics, and based on what we know about vision on earth give some parameters about light intensity and spectra that might be predictive of complex life on other planets.