The fantastic eye of the scallop revealed in a new paper


Why Evolution Is True

Perhaps you didn’t realize, like reader Gregory (who sent me the Science paper), that scallops have eyes. But they do indeed—up to 200 tiny eyes lining the mantle, each a millimeter across: about the size of an “o” on a printed page.

Here’s what the array looks like in the scallop Pecten:

And a close up of the miniscule baby blue eyes:

A close-up view of a scallop’s eyes. Photo Dan-Eric Nilsson/Lund University, source: New York Times

Why do they need them? Because scallops aren’t sedentary molluscs: they swim actively by “jet propulsion,” flapping their shells to get away from predators or to find new resting sites. To wit:

It’s been known for a while that these eyes probably involve mirror reflection of incident light onto a retina, but how that reflection was achieved wasn’t clear, except that the mirror probably involved guanine crystals (guanine is one of…

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