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Roger Daltrey of The Who once sang that he could “see for miles and miles.” As the legendary British rockers prepare for tonight’s halftime show of Super Bowl XLIV between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints, we thought it would be fun to look at animals with some unique and cool eyesight of their own. Just as Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are known for incredible downfield vision, animals like sea urchins, hammerhead sharks and bees maintain visual skills that are quite eye-opening and advantageous in their fields of play.
Hammerhead Sharks: Presented in 360-Degree Stereo Vision
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While the Super Bowl plays out in high definition on many televisions throughout the United States, hammerhead sharks move out about the oceans with amazing, human-like stereo version. According to a recent study in the Journal of Experimental Biology, the T-shaped head formations of hammerhead sharks allow them to have a wider range of view and greater depth perception, potentially giving them a distinct advantage when tracking down speedy prey. In the study, researchers flashed arcs of light around the right and left eyes of hammerhead sharks and then recorded the shark’s electrical activity via electrodes placed just under their corneas. The researchers learned that the hammerhead sharks had a three times higher overlap of what they could see in both their right and left eyes when compared to other sharks. The only downside for the hammerhead sharks is that they have bigger blind spots in front of their heads due to the larger distance between their eyes, which could explain why small schools of fish have been documented swimming safely in front of these mammoth creatures.
Sea Urchins: Eyeless but Not Powerless
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While sea urchins technically do not have eyes, they apparently “see” with their spines. As suggested by recent research at Duke University, sea urchins apparently interpret their surroundings from light that bounces off their spines. In the recent Duke study, 20 sea urchins were placed in a well-lit tank featuring two black discs of different sizes. While the sea urchins did not react to the smaller disc, they reacted differently to the beam intensity of the larger disc. Some of the urchins fled from the bigger disc while others moved closer to it. Based on these findings, the researchers suggested that sea urchins are capable of maintaining similar vision to the nautilus, horseshoe crab and other marine invertebrates with eyes, although sea urchin vision is still limited.
Bees: From the First Time They See Your Face
In another recent study detailed in the Journal of Experimental Biology, bees demonstrated the ability to recognize and remember human faces. French researchers first presented the bees with a simple image that represented a face, including two dots for eyes, a vertical dash for a nose and a horizontal line for a mouth, and rewarded the bees with droplets of sugar water went they went to the image. The researchers then removed the sugar water and presented other images with the dots, dash and line jumbled. Amazingly, the bees still went to the image that resembled the human face. However, when the researchers jumbled up the image of the human face, the bees did not know where to go, suggesting that they understand and use patterns to recognize humans in their environment.
Puppy Dogs: When Is It Pointless to Point?
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If you own a puppy that just doesn’t seem to be responding to your pointing and other training, you should avoid getting frustrated, according to recent findings in the journal Animal Behavior. In a study examining German shepherds, collies, Dachshunds, pointers and many other breeds of puppies, researchers learned that these young guys are unresponsive to pointing until they are at least 21 weeks old if not older. Apparently, dogs better understand pointing as they get older and gain more experience and familiarity with such visual cues. Similar findings have been documented in young chimpanzees and baby children as they age and start processing more information, showing that animals and humans are more alike than we sometimes think.
See-Through Frogs and Fish: Japan’s Visual Gift to You
While see-through frogs and fish may not have any extraordinary visual capabilities, they do provide humans a first-hand glimpse of amazing inner workings. In wake of controversies about dissecting animals, Japanese researchers have developed these see-through frogs and fish that are sans pigmentation, thus opening a window to the brain, heart and other organs. Interestingly, the researchers say that these see-through fish can live up to 20 years, thus letting us see how organs evolve over lifetimes. Since the see-through frogs are higher forms of life than the see-through fish, they are more preferable for scientific study and research. Whatever the case, both the see-through frogs and see-through fish are certainly cool to look at.