Skate collected for research

Skate collected for research

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This image is part of the feature Medicine From The Sea

Credit: VOLKER STEGER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Skate specimen. Researcher's gloved hands holding a skate (Raja erinacea) caught for use in biologi- cal research at the Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory (MBL) in Massachusetts, USA. The skate has eyes (not seen) unlike those of any other vertebrate, in that its retinas (light-sensitive membranes at the back of the eyeball) contain only rod cells. These are the light-sensitive cells that detect low light levels. Other vertebrates have both rods and colour-detecting cone cells in their retinas. Studying rods in isolation provides information on light/dark adaptation, and could lead to new ways of treating adaptation disorders such as night blindness and retinitis pigmentosa.

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