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1 November 2003 EVOLUTION AND FUNCTION OF ROUTINE TRICHROMATIC VISION IN PRIMATES
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Abstract

Evolution of the red-green visual subsystem in trichromatic primates has been linked to foraging advantages, namely the detection of either ripe fruits or young leaves amid mature foliage. We tested competing hypotheses globally for eight primate taxa: five with routine trichromatic vision, three without. Routinely trichromatic species ingested leaves that were “red shifted” compared to background foliage more frequently than species lacking this trait. Observed choices were not the reddest possible, suggesting a preference for optimal nutritive gain. There were no similar differences for fruits although red-greenness may sometimes be important in close-range fruit selection. These results suggest that routine trichromacy evolved in a context in which leaf consumption was critical.

Received: 14 March 2003; Accepted: 18 June 2003; Published: 1 November 2003
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