A new study from the University of Manchester points to animals utilizing the colors they see to actually maintain that internal clock. Obviously, animals in the wild don’t have the benefit of looking at their smartphone, or looking at the clock on the wall – but at the end of the day – the new research actually points to animals simply using the colors of light that are predominant at different points of the day – as their guiding light to tell time.
The research was published in the Open Access journal PLOS Biology. Specifically, the study looked at the way animals actually analyze the light and things that they saw, and how it related to their behavior at varying times during the day. The findings ultimately confirmed what scientists had previously suspected leading up to the study itself. For example, as evening approaches, light becomes bluer – and as that occurs, the animal’s internal clock begins to register that nightfall is approaching.
The way the scientists went about this was by recreating the natural world. In doing that, they were able to actually create the type of environment that animals would actually encounter and run various tests and track the behavior of the animals in the process. This is something that ultimately has had a major impact already on how scientists look at animals and how they manage their lives. Humans also have a circadian rhythm that is followed and aids us with telling time, and knowing when we should sleep, eat, and much more.
Dr. Timothy Brown from the Faculty of Life Sciences actually lead the research and had some very specific points to make about the findings. He said, “This is the first time that we’ve been able to test the theory that colour affects our body clock in any mammal. It has always been very hard to separate the change in colour to the change in brightness but using new experimental tools and a psychophysics approach we were successful.”
However, the really powerful point of the research, as Dr. Brown pointed out, was that, “the same findings can be applied to humans.” The benefit that this will have on the medical and scientific community as more data can be pulled from the masses will prove vital.