(This excerpt from Woman Has A Unique Condition Where She Can See A Million Colors by Emily Arata recently appeared on elite daily.com.)
When impressionist artist Concetta Antico looks at a shadow, she sees everything but black.
Antico is a certified tetrachromat. She can see a wider range of color than what’s normal because she has a fourth type of cone in her retinas.
The painter lends her vision to researchers’ studies in hopes it will help them better understand how we see color.
Antico’s young daughter was born colorblind, which is the result of the same mutated gene that gives her mother a fourth kind of color receptor. Antico hopes science will one day be able to help her see correctly.
Antico believes she’s aware of her special skill because she’s a painter.
She’s been trained to look at color so closely, her extra-perceptive eyes naturally aided her. When she was officially declared a tetrachromat after genetic testing seven years ago, she was largely unsurprised.
Scientists believe only women can be tetrachromats because they have two X chromosomes, which provide green and red cone cells. If you’re genetically gifted with superior color processing power, it’s coming from both sides of the family.
But, unlike what you may think, Antico doesn’t automatically see a whirlwind of new colors. Instead, tetrachromats have to be trained to look at colors more closely. They can see a range of shades within your average reds, blues and other colors.
Still, Antico’s got nothing on the mantis shrimp, which has 12 kinds of color receptors.