Star gazing on the seafloor

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


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