The typical human vision system is able to discriminate between a million or so different colours, yet is able to do this with a chromatic sensor array that is fundamentally based on three different receptors, sensitive to light in the blue, green and red portions of the visible spectrum. Some biological organisms have extended capabilities, providing vision in the ultra-violet, whilst others, such as some species of mantis shrimp reportedly have sixteen different types of photo-receptors. In general the biological imaging sensor takes a minimalist approach to sensing its environment, whereas current optical engineering approaches follow a 'brute' force solution where the challenge of hyperspectral imaging is addressed by various schemes for spatial and spectral dispersion of radiation across existing detector arrays. This results in a problem for others to solve in the processing and communication of the generated hypercube of data. This paper explores the parallels between some of those biological systems and the various design concepts being developed for discriminative imaging, drawing on activity supported by the UK Electro-Magnetic Remote Sensing Defence Technology Centre (EMRS DTC).