In their almost-540-million years of existence, eyes have adapted to suit some pretty unique behaviors and environments. Although we mostly talk about human eyes on this blog, today we’ve decided to highlight some of the most incredible eyes in the animal kingdom! To get your eyes checked, remember to schedule an appointment with our Raleigh children’s eye doctor today.
Although they’re pretty small and nonthreatening to us, dragonflies are apex predators of the insect world, with an astonishing 95% kill rate (for context, an average lion has only a 25% kill rate). Their high success rate is due in part to their incredible compound eyes, made up of 30,000 microscopic lenses called ommatidia. Dragonflies can detect colors and polarized light, and are extremely sensitive to movement—all useful abilities that allow them to swipe prey from midair in a fraction of a second. And since the eyes wrap around the animal’s entire head, giving it a full 360-degree field of vision, there’s nowhere to hide if you’re a tasty bug.
If you were asked to name an animal with near-perfect night vision, you would probably go through a long list of owls and cats before ever reaching the humble leaf-tailed gecko. But even an owl has nothing on this rare Madagascar species, who can see about 350 times better in the dark than a human can. For comparison, an owl can only see 100 times better at night than a human, and a cat can see about 6 times better. Geckos owe their incredible adaptation to specially adapted vertical pupils packed with light-sensitive cells. They can even see color in what humans would view as total darkness!
Chameleons are mostly known for their ability to change their skin color; but their eyes are also pretty unique. Chameleon eyelids are fused, covering almost the entire eyeball except a small hole for the pupil. This gives them the stereoscopic vision they need to snatch prey from midair with their tongues, a technique that requires extreme precision and depth perception. Chameleons are also able to move each eye independently of one another, giving them a full 360-degree field of vision. You may be beginning to see a pattern here—the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom belong to hunters of tiny, fast-moving prey! (You don’t need to be able to see very well to catch a leaf.)
The mantis shrimp has the most complex eyes of any known animal. Each of the shrimp’s stalk eyes is divided into three sections, allowing it to view objects with three different parts of the same eye. In other words, if the shrimp lost an eye, it would still be able to judge depth and distance with its one eye just as well as a human can with two. Their highly specialized ommatidia, about 10,000 per eye, allow them to see ultraviolet, infrared, and polarized light; they can also see far more colors than humans can, as they have 12 color receptors over our measly 3. Scientists are only just beginning to understand what the world looks like to a mantis shrimp.
Get Set for Success with Our Raleigh Children’s Eye Doctor
Your eyes might not be able to see in ultraviolet or infrared, but they’re still important to your everyday health and wellness. Better vision has been correlated with higher attendance, better grades, and better overall academic performance in children and teenagers, so it’s important to visit our Raleigh children’s eye doctor at least once a year! If you need Raleigh eye care or Raleigh LASIK surgery, call Raleigh Eye Center to schedule an appointment.