A new discovery in the field of marine biology has stunned the scientific community. According to the paper published on the subject, it would seem that the mollusk has armor with eyes.
Acanthopleura granulate, the name of the strange and elusive specie of mollusk, has a set of lenses built from the same material as its outer shell. The Acanthopleura granulate belongs to the chitons, a family of sea creatures that are noted for their bodies covered with durable armor plating. This specific chiton has its body literally littered with eyes that encompass ceramic lenses.
And to top all up, it would seem that the eyes themselves aren’t made of proteins. Instead they are made of a rare mineral named aragonite. Moreover, the sea critter’s outer shell is made from the same mineral.
So, how does this armor with eyes affect the critter’s interaction with its environment? One of the researchers came forth in order to shed some light in this issue. Doctor Ling Li, from MIT, explained that the Acanthopleura granulate’s eyes are transparent, even though the rest of its body is opaque. Hence, the set of eyes mounted on its outer shell are what researchers call true eyes.
The shell-eyes basically bear a lot of similarities to the human eyes. The ceramic retina is used to focus environmental light on the retina, which has millions of photoreceptive cells. By focusing environmental light, the retina via the cells, can actually produce real-time images.
In order to ascertain the mollusk’s eyesight, the team of researchers decided to pop some of them under the microscope. Enhanced electronic microscopy revealed that the retina itself cannot host many photoreceptive cell. Hence, the rendered image is somewhat limited.
They have discovered that one eye is able to produce a very small blurry image. But, as they stated, the mollusk doesn’t need a 20/20 result on the eyesight exam. It just needs to see if there is a predator nearby. When danger arises, the mollusk literally runs for cover, concealing under a bed of rocks, waiting for the danger to pass.
When talking about the mollusk that has armor with eyes, the scientists were in very high hopes. Further research should provide many opportunities to develop new technologies in all areas of study. I would seem that they already are planning on using their discoveries in order to help those working in heavy industry who need protective eye gear.