Neuroscientists have been looking for years for someone who has an extra type of cone cell, or the receptor cells that detect color. These cells are located in your eyes and allow you to see color. Since she has an extra one, this woman can see 99 million more colors than the rest of us. There are a few people with what they call "tetrachromat" eyes or supervision.
Most people are trichromats, which means that we have 3 types of cone cells. Each type is able to distinguish 100 shades so we can distinguish around 1 million different colors.
For people who are colorblind, only two of those cone cells work. This means they, along with almost all other mammals, can see around 10,000 shades and are classified as dichromats.
But this one doctor from northern England has four cone cell type, which takes the number of colors she can see up to 100 million. This means she can see colors most of us would never be able to think about. She has been identified as cDa29, but there are likely more people like her out there.
Scientists have dreamt up the existence of a tetrachromat since 1948 when Dutch scientists HL de Vries, who saw something in the eyes of people who are colorblind. He noticed that colorblind men only possess two normal cone cells and one mutant cone. The mothers and daughters of colorblind men had one mutant cone and three normal ones. This meant that they had four cone types.
The trouble was finding a woman who had all four types of cones that worked. Some estimate that 12% of the female population could be tetrachromats.
It took a few different tests for neuroscientists to discover a way to actually test women.
Jay Neitz, a vision researcher at the University of Washington, who didn't participate in the study, said that it might take more practice and specifically designed tests to discover just how special this is.
"Most of the things that we see as colored are manufactured by people who are trying to make colors that work for trichromats," he said. "It could be that our whole world is tuned to the world of the trichromat."
In other words, we aren't able to fully exercise these cones because we can't see the colors.
"This private perception is what everybody is curious about," Jordan told Discover. "I would love to see that."