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Chameleon

5 most amazing eyes of the animal kingdom

For human beings, having good vision is an important part of our modern day lives. Our eyes have evolved and adapted over many years and today are the second most complex organ after the brain. Our eyes are pretty special; they allow us to process 36,000 pieces of information in an hour and see 500 shades of grey.

However, in comparison to some of the other eyes in the animal kingdom, that’s nothing! Read on to find which animals have amazing eyesight.

Chameleon

Chameleon

As well as being able to change colour and catch insects with their quick tongue, chameleons also have unusual – and highly adapted – eyesight.

The eyes of a chameleon move independently of each other, meaning that they can look in two different directions at once, which you can see in the photo. This allows them a 360 degree field of vision around their bodies – even being able to see directly behind them. 

It also means that they can focus on two things at once, enabling them to both avoid predators and catch their pray. By focusing both eyes onto one object, they get an even greater depth perception, which is how they are able to catch a fly as it zips past them. Their upper and lower eyelids are fused, with only a small hole for their pupil to look through which gives them their distinctive appearance.

Colossal squid

Colossal aquid

The colossal squid – not to be confused with the smaller, more well-known giant squid, has the biggest eyes in the animal kingdom. They measure almost 30cm across – that’s the size of a dinner plate!

The colossal squid lives 2000 – 3000 feet below sea level, where there is so little light that many other living organisms rely more heavily on their senses other than sight. However, the colossal quid’s huge eyes are essential in its navigation of the darkest depths of the ocean. It’s recently been suggested that their eyes are so big in order to detect sperm whales – their only predators.

Owls

Owl eyes

An owl’s vision is highly adapted to hunting at night. For this reason they have a large cornea and pupil to allow as much light as possible to enter their eye. In fact, the forward-facing eyes of an owl are so large that they are essentially eye tubes, rather than eye balls, and they are also fixed into their sockets.

This is why they cannot be turned or rolled, meaning that if an owl needs to look behind them or sideways, they must turn their heads around, giving them their characteristic ‘swivelling head’. Far-sighted, owls cannot see anything within a few centimetres of their eyes, while their far vision and depth perception is unparalleled, especially in dim lighting or moonlight.

Leaf-tailed Gecko

Leaf-tailed Gecko

This little lizard gets its name because its body mimics a dead leaf, and its eyesight is similarly adapted to its surroundings. Most geckos cannot close their eyes at all, and their eyes are 350 times more sensitive to light than ours. Instead of an eyelid, leaf-tailed geckos have invisible scales covering their eyes which they often clean using their long tongue.

Their distinctive slit pupil, which can be seen in the picture, allows this nocturnal creature enhanced vision at night.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

The eyes of a dragonfly have evolved in a very different way to the human eye, and they are incredibly complex and advanced. A dragonfly’s eye has 30,000 facets, each of which captures an individual picture and allows the dragonfly to be able to see in all directions and intercept prey mid-flight.

Much like the chameleon, dragonflies have a 360 degree field of vision, and are therefore very adept at avoiding predators.