Scallop Eyes
Palmer et al found that spatial vision in the scallop is achieved through precise control of the size, shape, and packing density of the tiles of guanine that together make up an image-forming mirror at the back of each of the eyes. This image shows the great scallop (Pecten maximus). Image credit: Ceri Jones, Haven Diving Services.

An international band of biologists from Israel and Sweden has obtained an in depth view of any scallop’s aesthetic system — a design as high as 200 eyes they state is strikingly similar to a reflecting telescope.

Depth About Little Reflecting Telescopes Work in Scallop Eyes

Most pets or animals use lenses to target light onto their retina, a light-sensitive coating of tissue coating the inner part of the eye, though certain sea organisms have implemented mirrors to produce images.

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Dr. Benjamin Palmer from the Weizmann Institute of Technology and co-authors looked into the complex firm of the scallop’s reflection.

Using various microscopic imaging techniques, the scientists discovered that spatial eyesight in the scallop is achieved through the mirror’s split structure located behind each eyesight, which is fine-tuned to echo wavelengths of light that penetrate its habitat.

“Scallops have a visible system comprising up to 200 eyes, each made up of a concave reflection rather than a lens to target light,” the analysts said.

“The hierarchical form of the multi-layered reflection is manipulated for image creation, from the component guanine crystals at the nan scale to the complicated 3D morphology at the millimeter level.”

“The layered composition of the reflection is tuned to reveal the wavelengths of light penetrating the scallop habitat and it is tiled with a mosaic of rectangular guanine crystals, which reduces optical aberrations.”

“The mirror sorts images over a double-layered retina used for independently imaging the peripheral and central areas of view.”

“Our work shows the impressive control the scallop exerts above the growth and layout of crystals to produce a highly reflective reflection capable of developing practical images,” Dr. Palmer and co-workers said.

Equally the intricate optics of other pets or animals, like lobsters, have an enlightened telescope design, these results may pave the best way to the development of book bio-inspired optical devices for imaging and sensing applications.

The findings appear in the December 1, 2017 issue of the journal Science.


Benjamin A. Palmer et al. 2017. The image-forming mirror in the eye of the scallop. Science 358 (6367): 1172-1175; doi: 10.1126/science.aam9506

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