Thomas W Cronin, Sönke Johnsen, Justin Marshall and Eric J Warrant
Princeton University Press, £48.95
For centuries philosophers have wrestled with the uncomfortable knowledge that we cannot be certain what other people are thinking.
What I see as blue may not be what you see, even if we call it by the same name. When it comes to other animals, assuming they may 'see' like us would be grossly misleading.
Human vision evolved to meet the requirements of our primate ancestors, and is simply one of an almost infinite number of possible solutions to visually perceive the environment.
As Thomas Cronin and his co-authors put it: "The visual worlds of animals are... interpreted by alien modes of processing that are barely analogous to our intuitive concepts of vision." They then proceed to take the reader through a grand tour of the increasingly strange, elegant and mind-bendingly different solutions that the diverse members of the animal kingdom have found to visually parse their surroundings.
It is difficult to do this book justice in such a short review. Sumptuously illustrated and beautifully written, it deserves to be read by anybody with an interest in biology, not just students of visual ecology.