For many animals the most important and the most used sense is the visual sense. But some animals are equipped with a supernatural vision and not because they have X-rays but because they have a great number of eyes. Researchers studying marine mollusks have found out that one type of mollusk wears armor of eyes.
But we are not talking about any kind of eyes, but very special ones that share the same tissue with the animal’s shell which is made from a calcium-carbonate mineral. The shell, as most other animal shells, being flexible, allows the mollusk to roll up and defend itself from danger.
Apparently, the fact that the shell had embedded some soft tissue sensitive to light was already known, but what was recently discovered is that this particular mollusk has hundreds of real eyes. These chiton eyes are able to see from no more than 6.5 feet away a fish about 8 inches long.
Now, don’t imagine these eyes being similar to ours. The armor eyes are made of a mineral called aragonite, while our eyes are made of proteins. This mineral is a kind of calcium carbonate usually found in mollusks but also in pearls mixed with proteins.
Not only did the researchers find the eyes but they also discovered that these eyes are not simply sensitive to light, but they can actually resolve images, which, naturally enhances the mollusk’s ability to defend itself by making it aware of danger.
Unfortunately, although the eyes and armor are made from the same mineral, the eyes have a certain crystalline structure that makes them more sensitive and, therefore, more likely to fracture. The good news is that the damage is not irreparable and chitons can even grow more than 1,000 eyes throughout their lifetime and replace the ones that were fractured.
What was though, the purpose of this research? Scientists are hoping to use these natural designs found in different animals to make improvements in technology. For example, they are planning to print a 3D model of structural panels that would have built-in ‘eyes’.
So, it seems that the more we learned about nature and the animal world, the more we can help humanity to develop and find new ways of making life easier.
Image source: www.pixabay.com