Sea creatures generally have unique eyes, but scallops seem to have the most bizarre visual system of all animals. The small simple mollusc has up to 200 eyes and these eyes work according to the same principle as the telescope.
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It was already known that scallops are unique in having concave mirrors in the back of their eyes. Come reflecting the light of these concave mirrors in the retina above. This has not been found in other animals, it is also the reason why the researchers wanted to get more information about the internal functioning of their visual system.
By using a sophisticated telescope that quickly freezes the sample and allows it to retain its shape, researchers have finally obtained a detailed view of the visual system of a scallop. The images reveal that the system consists of small mirrors and crystals that are carefully arranged inside small scallop eyes and these mirrors are made of guanine. Like the mirrors of telescopes, each mirror reflects the wavelengths of light in its habitat and gives them a spatial view of their surroundings. The spatial vision in the festoon is controlled by the stratified structure of the mirror.
Most other animals use lenses to focus the incoming light instead of the mirrors.
"The mirror forms images in a double-layered retina used for central fields of vision, and the tiled mirror outside the festoon eye is very similar to the segmented mirrors of the reflecting telescopes." The authors wrote in the study.
Scallops have more than 100 eyes! Gavin Taylor @LundVision @lunduniversity and his colleagues have examined them. The results can help develop miniature cameras for use in water. https://t.co/5frdW6LZGq pic.twitter.com/bbPZ3PSGU3 – Biology, LU (@Biology_LU) December 1, 2017
Researchers suggest that a process in brain combines Those images taken from hundreds of scallop eyes and turn them into a unique and clearer image.
"All the construction of the mirror is well adapted to the environment where scallops live in. Their vision is considerably better than the vision found in other bivalves with other types of eyes." Co-researcher Gavin Taylor of the Department of Biology at Lund University said
The study is the first to capture the mosaic view of small mirrors and crystals inside scallop eyes. The complex visual system of scallops could inspire the design of large telescopes that look into deep space and observe distant objects.
"Our results can help develop miniature cameras for use in water," Taylor said. "There's also a growing interest in cameras like that for their use in robotics and biomedical applications – it probably will not be long until applications like these are inspired by the eyes of scallops."