The eyes of the mantis shrimp are unique in the animal world for their ability to detect circularly polarized light. (Roy Caldwell)

The unusual eyes of the mantis shrimp could inspire engineers to create the next generation of optical computers and media, like DVDs or CDs, scientists say.

The mantis shrimp of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia has the most complex eyes scientists have ever found. The shrimp have 12 different types of cells for perceiving colour, while a human has only three.

The shrimp’s eyes can move independently of each other, and each eye has three different zones that can focus on an object, so it can perceive depth with just one eye.

As well, the mantis shrimp can distinguish between different forms of polarized light, light in which the waves are constrained to a single plane. The lenses of cameras and sunglasses often contain polarizing filters.

The shrimp can also detect circularly polarized light, where the waves travel on a helical corkscrew path. No other animal is known to detect circularly polarized light. (Some modern 3D movies are projected using circular polarization filters to achieve the effect.) Read the full story at CBC News