Navigation Links
New fossils demonstrate that powerful eyes evolved in a twinkling

Palaeontologists have uncovered half-a-billion-year-old fossils demonstrating that primitive animals had excellent vision.

An international team led by scientists from the South Australian Museum and the University of Adelaide found the exquisite fossils, which look like squashed eyes from a recently swatted fly.

This discovery will be published tomorrow (Thursday 30 June 2011) in the prestigious journal Nature.

The lead author is Associate Professor Michael Lee from the South Australian Museum and the University of Adelaide's School of Earth & Environmental Sciences.

Compound Eyes

Modern insects and crustaceans have "compound eyes" consisting of hundreds or even thousands of separate lenses. They see their world as pixels each lens produces a pixel of vision. More lenses mean more pixels and better visual resolution. (Each lens does not form a miniature image a myth often perpetuated by Hollywood.)

Evolutionary Advantage

The fossil compound eyes were found on Kangaroo Island, South Australia and are 515 million years old. They have over 3000 lenses, making them more powerful than anything from that era, and probably belonged to an active predator that was capable of seeing in dim light.

Their discovery reveals that some of the earliest animals possessed very powerful vision; similar eyes are found in many living insects, such as robber flies. Sharp vision must therefore have evolved very rapidly, soon after the first predators appeared during the 'Cambrian Explosion' of life that began around 540 million years ago.

Given the tremendous adaptive advantage conferred by sharp vision for avoiding predators and locating food and shelter, there must have been tremendous evolutionary pressure to elaborate and refine visual organs.

Who owned them?

As the fossil eyes were found isolated, it's not certain what animal they came from, but they probably belonged to a large shrimp-like creature. The rocks containing the eyes also preserve a dazzling array of ancient marine creatures, many new to science. They include primitive trilobite-like creatures, armored worms, and large swimming predators with jointed feeding appendages.

More pixels: more chance of survival

The recently discovered fossil eyes would have seen the world with over 3000 pixels, giving its owner a huge visual advantage over its contemporaries, which would have seen a very blurry world with about 100 pixels. This is much better than the living horseshoe crab, which sees the world as 1000 pixels, but not as good as living dragonflies, which have the best compound eyes and see the world as ~28 000 pixels.


Contact: Crispin Savage
University of Adelaide

Related biology news :

1. Fossils record ancient migrations and trilobite orgies
2. Oldest fossils of large seaweeds, worm-like animals tell story of ancient oxygen
3. Unexpected exoskeleton remnants found in Paleozoic fossils
4. Scientists decipher 3 billion-year-old genomic fossils
5. Montana State University paleontologist receives major award for protecting fossils on federal land
6. Hobbits are a new human species -- according to the statistical analysis of fossils
7. Plant fossils give first real picture of earliest Neotropical rainforests
8. Microfossils challenge prevailing views of the effects of Snowball Earth glaciations on life
9. Google Earth aids discovery of early African mammal fossils
10. Fossils suggest earlier land-water transition of tetrapod
11. Cretaceous octopus with ink and suckers -- the worlds least likely fossils?
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
New fossils demonstrate that powerful eyes evolved in a twinkling
(Date:6/22/2016)...  The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics was ... as one of the fastest-growing trade shows during the Fastest ... in Las Vegas . ... in each of the following categories: net square feet of ... attendees. The 2015 ACMG Annual Meeting was ranked 23 out ...
(Date:6/16/2016)... , June 16, 2016 ... size is expected to reach USD 1.83 billion ... Grand View Research, Inc. Technological proliferation and increasing ... applications are expected to drive the market growth. ... , The development of advanced multimodal ...
(Date:6/3/2016)... Das DOTM (Department ... hat ein 44 Millionen $-Projekt ... einschließlich Personalisierung, Registrierung und IT-Infrastruktur, an Decatur ... Implementierung von Identitätsmanagementlösungen. Zahlreiche renommierte internationale Anbieter ... aber Decatur wurde als konformste und innovativste ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Mosio, a leader ... “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering with experienced clinical research professionals, ... providing practical tips, tools, and strategies for clinical researchers. , “The landscape of ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... HOUSTON , June 23, 2016 ... agreement with the Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve ... of the agreement, Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide ... education and connectivity with association coaches, volunteers, athletes ... partner with the Cy-Fair Sports Association and to ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... the launch of the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., ... the future of how hardware projects are designed, built and brought to market. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... LONDON , June 23, 2016 ... & Hematology Review, 2016;12(1):22-8 ... Review , the peer-reviewed journal from touchONCOLOGY, ... the escalating cost of cancer care is placing ... a result of expensive biologic therapies. With the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: