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Colour vision may have evolved in primates to help them pick up on changes in blood and oxygen concentrations beneath the skin’s surface, giving access to emotional cues, a new analysis proposes.
Previously research has suggested that primates – the only mammals with the ability to see in colour – evolved this facility to spot ripe fruits or nutritional leaves.
The new analysis compared variations in skin colour change with the colour sensitivities of primate vision cells. These cells, known as cones, sit in the retina of the eye and allow primates to discriminate colour.