What do corals use their photorecepters to sense?



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    Though coral polyps do not have true eyes or vision, they do have photoreceptors that can be thought of as the evolutionary precursors to true eyes.  These photoreceptors can sense differences between light and dark, and seem to be used by many coral species to “keep track” of the phases of the moon, and determine when it is time to spawn.  Most species of coral spawn in synchronized mass-reproduction events, and it appears that light cues are what trigger these events to take place.  The discovery of coral’s reliance on moonlight to trigger spawning, in 2007, helped show that these comparatively simple animals still have very complex lives, and are capable of sensing their surrounding to a limited degree.

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