What's the coolest insect

Masters of vision: how animals perceive the world

Some animals have eyes with which they can spot their prey particularly well, others can recognize an attacker from every angle with their eyes and still other animals just have super eyes with which they can see everything even from a great distance. Animal eyes have only one purpose: they are supposed to help the animals survive in the wild.

The primordial eye in the animal kingdom

At the beginning of the development, animal eyes consisted only of sensory cells lying next to one another. Even today, some species of jellyfish swim through the seas with these so-called flat eyes. And has been for over 500 million years.

The development of different animal eyes

Most animal eyes, however, have evolved from these primordial eyes, which can only differentiate between light and dark and thus serve as a mere guide. There are therefore animal eyes that are typical of a predator, others are typical of so-called escape animals. And many insects have their typical compound eyes. You can see why this is so here:

Horses

Horses look just as sharp and colored as humans. But her eyes are on the side of her head. You can not only look to the left and right at the same time, but also much further back than the person without having to turn your head. This is important because they are so-called "escape animals". This enables them to recognize and react to enemies attacking from behind. They only have a small blind spot at the front and back.

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Predators

With predators such as jaguars or leopards, the eyes are directed forward, so they can see particularly well in three dimensions. As hunters, you have to do this in order to be able to focus your prey. Colors are only perceived to a limited extent by all types of cats, but they have very good night vision, just like their tame relatives - the house cats.

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Domestic cats

The pupils of some species of cats can dilate a lot. This means that enough light can still reach the particularly sensitive retina at dusk. In addition, behind the retina there is a mirror-like layer, the tapetum. It reflects incident light so that it can pass the retina a second time and is thus amplified. The tapetum ensures the shimmering glow of the cat's eyes when they are illuminated in the dark - for example by a car headlight. When it is dark, cats only need one sixth the amount of light to see compared to humans. Moonlight is enough to be successful in the hunt.

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birds of prey

Birds of prey such as golden eagles, hawks and hawks have real super eyes. Since they have few natural enemies, their eyesight is geared towards hunting. Because they have to precisely coordinate their dives from several hundred meters - and above all be able to recognize the prey on the ground. To do this, they have built-in binoculars - a super zoom. In a small part of the eye, the retina enlarges so much that the birds of prey can clearly see a mouse in flight from up to 500 meters away. Some birds of prey can also perceive ultraviolet light - this is how they see the urine of mice as a glowing trail.

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insects

Insects have thousands of individual eyes - dragonflies, for example, more than 30,000 - arranged in a honeycomb hemispherical shape, each one with a slightly different line of sight. The individual images are put together in the insect brain like a mosaic to form an overall image. Insects cannot see very clearly with these compound eyes. But they can see ultraviolet light. Many flowers and blossoms glow particularly intensely in the UV range and thus attract pollinators.

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The compound eyes of a rain brake

fishes

Underwater in the coral reefs, communication is also carried out in the ultraviolet color spectrum. Some corals look like neon signs. Fish eyes can perceive that. However, it is not yet known why the sea creatures change their color this way. Special proteins absorb light and emit it again in neon green, poison red and orange.

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Eye of a long-spiked porcupine fish

Squids

In the eternal night of the deep sea, squids have developed the largest eyes in the animal kingdom - up to 30 centimeters in diameter - in order to track down their faintly glowing prey. But even they are not safe from a predator: the sperm whale. Unlike the squid, it is blind in the deep sea. But the whale emits high-frequency sounds and uses the echo to precisely locate its prey.

© Chris Schwitz / OKAPIA
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Eye of a cephalopod squid

Ostrich

The ostrich's eye is larger than its brain. The ostrich's eye can grow up to five centimeters in diameter. It has the largest eye of all land creatures and can even see three kilometers away.

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Chameleons

Chameleons are masters of camouflage because they can adapt their colors to their surroundings. But they also have very special eyes. They are located on the side of the head so that - similar to the horses - they have an almost 360 degree view. They can move each eye independently of each other so that they can see everything - for example, with one eye they look out for prey in front, with the other eye they keep an eye on possible enemies behind.

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