Retinal extracts of the Australian gecko, Phyllurus milii (White), have revealed the presence of a photosensitive pigment, unusual for terrestrial animals, because of its absorption maximum at 524 mµ. This pigment has an absorption spectrum which is identical in form with that of other visual chromoproteins. It is not a porphyropsin, for bleaching revealed the presence, not of retinene2, but of retinene1 as a chromophore. Photolabile pigments with characteristics similar to those of the Phyllurus visual pigment were also detected in retinal extracts of six other species of nocturnal geckos.
The presence of this retinal chromoprotein adequately accounts for the unusual visual sensitivity curve described by Denton for the nocturnal gecko. This pigment may have special biological significance in terms of the unique phylogenetic position of geckos as living representatives of nocturnal animals which retain some of the characteristics of their diurnal ancestors. The occurrence of this retinene1 pigment, intermediate in spectral position between rhodopsin and iodopsin, is interpreted in support of the transmutation theory of Walls. The results and interpretation of this investigation point up the fact that, from a phylogenetic point of view, too great an emphasis on the duplicity theory may serve to detract attention from the evolutionary history of the retina and the essential unitarianism of the visual cells.