Monkeys See Color–By: Sarah B.


Did you know male squirrel monkeys can’t see color? In fact they can only see blues and yellows. Scientists at the University of Seattle found a way to get special proteins to 2 monkeys named Sam and Dalton. These proteins are important building blocks for cells. The way they got the proteins into the Sam and Dalton is they injected a virus with the proteins in them. Scientists use viruses in a positive way to get different DNA genes to different living organisms. The scientists did this treatment, or gene therapy as they called it, over 20 weeks. They then tested the monkeys with a dot system color test. The scientists would have the monkeys point to colors and get a reward. If Sam or Dalton pointed to a gray dot they would not get a treat. Jay Neitz, the head of the experiment, says”the experiment wasn’t supposed to work. In fact, when he asked other scientists who study vision if they thought color vision was possible in colorblind monkeys, “every single person said, ‘absolutely not,'” Even though this experiment worked, since the monkeys can’t talk, the scientists don’t know if Sam and Dalton were really seeing reds and greens. They could’ve been seeing shades of blue and yellow. This experiment does open doors but, scientists don’t know whether or not this will let colorblind people see color. These scientists tested on monkeys. They do not know how humans will react.

Thought Questions:

1.) What do you think would happen if humans took the same shots Sam and Dalton took?

2.) These scientists only help 2 monkeys. What about the other monkeys?



~ by Student Entry on October 7, 2009.

17 Responses to “Monkeys See Color–By: Sarah B.”

  1. cool

  2. I loved it it was very interesting. First of all i never knew that male squirell monkeys are color blind. Are female monkeys color blind also or is it just male monkeys? Anyways I really liked all of the information you included and it made me very curious about if the monkeys are actually seeing colors and if it would work on colorblind humans. Lastly, I thought that it was funny that the scientests named the monkeys Sam and Dalton. by the way I love the picture it’s adorable!

  3. I thimk that other monkeys deserve a chance to see color too! I think that it’s true that you can’t tell if the monkey is actally seeing color or just learning that pointing to certain dots would get them treats. I think if the shot to colorbind humans, the results would be more clear. I think that these scientists are onto something,though.

  4. I hope this helps colorblind people!!!

  5. Wow sarah this is a great article! I never thought that monkeys were color bind, and i find it very wierd that they can only see blue and yellow. I think it would be nice if that could work on color blind humans too! I think of a virus as a sickness, so i wouldnt think that purposely you would give someone a virus. I hope these scientist can help these blind monkeys.

  6. Like Sarah’s mother, I hope this experiment will help colorblind people too. I guess more tests would need to be done in order to be sure that the monkeys are actually pointing to the correct color but this is a very interesting start! Emily brought up a very good point. This test was done on male monkeys. Do you think there would be similar results if they were done on female monkeys? Any ideas why they chose male monkeys for this test?
    -Mr. Piniat

  7. I would hate to be a monkey because you could only see blue and yellow. I also feel bad for monkeys because they probaly had to get a shot to find out there DNA. I wonder what treats that monkeys get. I hope there plan works.

  8. Very good article! I think if color blind humans took the same shot the monkeys took, that it would also work and have the same effect on humans, and they would be able to see in color. It was really interesting to find out that monkeys can only see in blue and yellow! How strange!

  9. I thought t was very well done. Very informational. I loved it! I also love monkeys so I loved this topic!

  10. I never knew monkeys were color blind! And i would never think they saw in blue and yellow i would think black and white. If humans took this I have no clue what would happen. If they were to give it to a human thats color blind it may effect their body since it was probably made for animals or squrill monkeys. I think they should start helping even more monkeys and help them see in color. Great Job Sarah!

  11. I think it is strange that the male monkeys can only see blue and yellow. i wonder why it is blue and yellow and not like black and white or some other neutral color. I think the shot may work on humans as well. It was very interesting to find out about this information.

  12. Sarah- I loved your article i never knew any of that. i cxant believe that male monkeyscan only see blue and yellow, if anything i would of thought that they could only see black and white like most other animals.Nice article. good job!

  13. I like your article alot. I never knew that male monkey could only see blue and yellow. I never even know they were color blind, but whwat about woman monkeys, are they color blind too? but good job!!!

  14. This was such a very well written blog. It had so much information. I think is people took the same shots it would be affective and helpful. I think they shouldn’t give it to other monkeys.

  15. Good Job, Sarah!!! I find it to be really interesting that Sam and Dalton got shots so they can see other colors. I think if humans took the same shot it might not help them because we can eat other foods that have proteins. I hope that it would help people after more tests and maybe adding a few more things into the shot or just adding the virus not the proteins. I think it will be able to help male monkeys but i wonder if they will have to change the shot for female monkeys.

  16. I think this article was well put.To answer your first question i would say that if we got the same shots Sam and Dalton we would probably get very sick because we are eating enough protein every day.If we received those shots than people who digest the right amount of protien each day would be having to much or an “Overdose”,in comparison this could be good for people who barely eat any protien each day.To answer your second question i would say that why do two monkeys get the vision of us while others suffer from color loss?Can female monkeys see all the colors?

  17. What do you all think about the benefits of using viruses to our advantage? Usually, we think of viruses as deadly and we try to stay away from them as much as possible but in this case it was used to help these monkeys. Viruses are also used in many vaccines that are given out. The new nasal mist H1N1 vaccine actually has a live (weakened) form of the virus in it. Many times, viruses can actually benefit our society

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