Nocturnal helmet geckos are among the few living creatures on Earth that are able to perceive and distinguish colors at night. Geckos possess this unique ability because their eyes feature a series of distinct concentric zones of varying refractive powers, according to a study published in the March 30th issue of the Journal of Vision.

The nocturnal helmet geckos mutifocal optical system is comprised of large cones up to 350 times more sensitive than human cone vision at the color vision threshold, estimate the authors. This multifocal system also may allow nocturnal geckos to focus simultaneously on multiple objects at various distances.

With the knowledge from the gecko eyes, we might be able to develop more effective cameras and maybe even useful multifocal contact lenses, says study leader Lina Roth, Ph.D.

Roth LSV, Lundstroem L, Kelber A, et al. The pupils and optical systems of gecko eyes. J Vis 2009 Mar 30;9(3):1-11.

Vol. No: 146:06Issue: 6/15/2009