Star gazing on the seafloor

Scallops have more than 200 eyes in an arrangement similar to a telescope

06 Dec 2017 by Selina Powell

Israeli and Swedish researchers have detailed the intricate visual structure of scallops in their study published in Science.

They describe how the molluscs have a visual system comprising up to 200 eyes, with each eye made from a concave mirror rather than a lens to focus light on two retinas.

This formation is similar to how telescopes use an array of mirrors to focus light.


“The tiled, off-axis mirror of the scallop eye bears a striking resemblance to the segmented mirrors of reflecting telescopes,” the authors highlighted.

The layered structure of the mirror in a scallop’s eye is tuned to reflect the wavelengths of light penetrating its habitat and is tiled with a mosaic of square guanine crystals, which reduces optical aberrations.

The research has the potential to aid the development of bio-inspired optical devices for imaging and sensing applications.

Image credit: Bernard Spragg


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