Scallops’ amazing eyes use millions of tiny, square crystals to see | Science News


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Scallops’ amazing eyes use millions of tiny, square crystals to see

New look inside the sea creature’s eyeballs reveals their unusual workings

2:08pm, November 30, 2017
scallop eyes

SHELL-A-VISION  The fleshy part of a scallop is studded with dozens (or in some species, hundreds) of eyes, each containing an intricate mosaic mirror.

There’s stiff competition for the most elaborate eyeballs in the animal kingdom, but a mollusk that turns up on dinner plates might be a finalist.

Each of a scallop’s eyes — it has up to 200 of them, each about a millimeter in diameter — contains millions of perfectly square, flat crystals that build up into a mirrored mosaic, new research shows. And that shiny surface is curved in a way that lets a scallop focus light onto two different retinas.

Scientists have known for a long time that scallop eyes are unusual. In the 1960s, biologist Michael Land showed that each scallop eye uses a mirror to focus light into images, while most other eyes use lenses (SN: 5/28/16, p. 22). That natural mirror is made of crystals of guanine, Land determined — better known for its job as one of the four nucleotides that make up DNA. At the

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