From the retina of the land-locked population of the sea lamprey, Petromyzon marinus, a photolabile pigment was extracted which was identified spectrophotometrically as a member of the rhodopsin group of pigments. Using the absorption spectrum of a relatively pure solution and analysis by means of difference spectra, the peak of this pigment was placed at about 497 mµ. The method of selective bleaching by light of different wave lengths revealed no significant amounts of any other pigment in the extracts. A similar pigment was also detected in retinal extracts of the Pacific Coast lamprey, Entospenus tridentatus.
These results are significant for two reasons: (a) the lamprey is shown to be an example of an animal which spawns in fresh water but which is characterized by the presence of rhodopsin, rather than porphyropsin, in the retina; (b) the primitive phylogenetic position of the lamprey suggests that rhodopsin was the visual pigment of the original vertebrates.