Thanks to powerful new microscopes, a team of Israeli researchers has gotten a look at the hidden sophistication of the scallop eye, The New York Times reports.
Last week they reported their findings in the journal Science: each eye contains a miniature mirror made up of millions of square tiles. The mirror reflects incoming light onto two retinas, and each of those can detect different parts of the scallop’s surroundings.
Our own eye has been likened to a camera, which uses a lens to focus light on the retina. This new research suggests that scallop eyes are more like a reflector telescope of the sort first invented by Isaac Newton.
Some invertebrate eyes can sense only light and dark, but scientists have long suspected that scallops can "see" images, maybe even recognizing predators quickly enough to avoid them.
But scallop eyes, which are about the size of poppy seeds, are so tiny and delicate that scientists haven't been able to figure out how they work -- until now.
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