So one of the aspects of my science fiction world is genetic manipulation and modification of humans by one of the factions. I am wanting to have a subset of humans who receive a single eye transplant, or possibly both, for human eyeball sized mantis shrimp eyes to be used for combat. Also I acknowledge that currently eye transplants are not even possibly yet, but I assume that 200 years from now, the time of my story, that it will be possible to regenerate the optical nerves connecting the eyes and the brain.

Question 1: Is it possible to receive an eye transplant from another animal at all, or would the differences in cells, DNA, ect cause a horrible reaction?

Question 2: Assuming it was possible, would the eyes of the mantis shrimp, which see in 12-16 different spectrums, be able to be processed by the human brain? Would simpler eyes, like dogs which only see in blue and yellow, be able to be processed by the human brain?

  • $\begingroup$ provided the eye is the correct size and the human is on immuno suppressent drugs i dont see why it couldn't work, but where is your source for the mantis shrimp bit? $\endgroup$ – Alex Robinson Apr 18 '17 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ Answer is likely yes as human can interpert magnetic fields when hooked up to such censors by their nerves. But it's a poorly documented mostly illegal field of research. But seems to indicate our mind can learn to interpert alien signals. $\endgroup$ – Mormacil Apr 18 '17 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ "Seeing in 12-16 different spectrums" doesn't mean what you think it does. There is only one 'spectrum,' that of EM radiation, which goes from gammas and UV through the color spectrum (purple to red) then to IR and down to radio waves and such. What you are probably refering to is that mantis shrimp have 12 or so color receptors compared to the human's 3. However, they still see the same colors that we do; in fact according to Nature their color vision is worse than ours. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Apr 18 '17 at 15:24
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    $\begingroup$ @kingledion: Nitpicking after a long day at work. Color is a sensation in the mind; it is not a physical quantity. By definition, other animals cannot have human minds and so we cannot say that they see the same colors, although they may be sensitive to the same range of wavelengths of EM radiation. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 18 '17 at 15:40
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    $\begingroup$ Well regardless of the perceived advantages or disadvantages of a Mantis Shrimp's eyes, the general consensus seems to be that it would be possible. My main concern was that if the human brain attempted to interpret a radically different set of visual "data" that it would severely confuse if even damage a person's brain. $\endgroup$ – ntchapin Apr 18 '17 at 16:21

There have been experiments with giving squirrel monkeys color vision through gene therapy, so that part may not be as far fetched as it sounds on the surface.


Xenotransplantation is also a thing, believe it or not. But it's really limited at this point.


Xenotransplantation requires compatibly between species though. See the 'Potential animal organ donors' section of the wiki page above.

I think that's going to be your biggest hurdle. Transplants between similar mammals are difficult, I suspect transplants between crustaceans and humans will be impossible. Things like blood type, size, and compatible function matter quite a bit.

Blood type matching isn't possible in this case. The eye will require Hemocyanin, while the body uses hemoglobin.


  • $\begingroup$ I didn't even think about matching the blood requirements of the eye. That kills the Mantis Shrimp eye right there. Thank you $\endgroup$ – ntchapin Apr 18 '17 at 18:08

I tend to say no. It is not possible to have beneficial effect on having a mantis shrimp eye on human.

Here is why: Compound eye

You might argue that you can connect the nerve to the brain, but our brain is not developed for compound eye. Our brain is not evolved to translate signals from hundreds of eyes.

Even if the brain can adapt and translate the signals, it will not have significant advantages to normal-eyed humans, mainly because they are just not trained to use it, and the brain cannot use the full potential of the wonderful eye of the shrimp.

It's different if you genetically engineered babies to develop with the compound eyes, as their brain will try to adapt to the eye signals. They will still have to adapt (read: evolve) through generations to develop proper brain region to take care of the signals.

However, transplanting of non-compound eye might be feasible. Even if it is in addition to the available 2 eyes, brain can try to use the new eye, just like the brain can adapt and use prosthetic limbs.


There have been attempts at growing human organs on pigs, so you could go that way. However, I think that improved vision by genetic manipulation, or even fully artificial eyes are better approaches - easier, less handwavium - than pegging an overgrown multifaceted bug's eye into someone's face.


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