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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Giant Eyes, But Why?
15 March 2012 12:00 pm
Giant squid have the largest eyes on Earth, about the size of a basketball—but why do they need such big peepers? So they can see a sperm whale in time to escape its gaping jaws, researchers report online today in Current Biology. Seeing under water is tricky because light fades out at deeper depths and water makes distant objects disappear even before they are too small to see. But eyes are expensive to build and maintain, so such huge ones must serve a purpose. In the new study, researchers developed a computer model to look at what different-sized eyes could see at different water depths. In the dark deep, sperm whales and other animals become "visible" because their movements disturb small organisms that give off light, similar to a flashing firefly. The modeling showed that basketball-sized eyes could detect whales amid flashes of light from more than 120 meters away—giving the squid enough of an edge to make a quick exit. Most organisms are not faced with such big predators, so they don't need to see far away and thus get by with smaller eyes.
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