The Eye of The Beholder

“Since we cannot change reality,
let us change the eyes which see reality.”
Nikos Kazantzakis

When you look into someone’s eyes or an animals eyes, what do you see? We are now able to know if the eyes are from a flight or fight species.

A scientific study recently analyzed the eyes of 214 species of land animals. What they discovered is that pupil shapes are directly linked to an animal’s ecological niche.

For instance, animals with pupils that are vertically elongated, like domestic cats and gators, are more likely to be ambush predators – hunters active day and night who use stealth, not strength or speed, to overcome their prey.

Animals with horizontally elongated pupils, such as goats and sheep are herbivore prey animals, the researchers found. Circular pupils, found in humans and birds, provide good all-around vision and are linked to animals that chase down their prey.

Species that are active both night and day with slit pupils provide the range they need to help them see in dim light yet not get blinded by the midday sun.

In fact the sideways orientation which the horse has, is very important for his survival when he is grazing. When he drops his head to graze, its pupils rotate (in opposite directions) by up to 70 degrees to stay horizontal, the researchers found.

While prey animals need to be able to see all around them, predators need binocular vision to see how far away their prey is. Vertical-slit pupils maximize binocular disparity, and blur, in which objects at different distances are out of focus, the scientists found.

But not all predators have vertical pupils.

What is surprising is that the researches noticed from their study that the slit pupils were linked to predators that were close to the ground. Domestic cats have vertical slits, but bigger cats, like tigers and lions, don’t. Their pupils are round, like humans and dogs.

This amazing research teaches us how remarkable the eye and vision can be for us as well as all of nature. Who knows, maybe in the not too distant future we will be able to simulate and see through the eye of the beholder.

Shine On

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