Did you know?
Humans have some of the best vision around, but there are many animals who have us beat, hands down. There are also a few species with some pretty crazy eyes. Most animals developed their unique eye characteristics through evolution to meet a need to survive.
Out of all animals in the animal kingdom, birds of prey (like Eagles, for example) have the best eyesight of all. Eagles and falcons can spot a small animal such as a rabbit from more than 3.2 kilometres away. Eagles can see about eight times as far as humans can, and have much better colour vision than we do. They can zoom in on their prey and see UV light. This makes eagles and falcons some of the best hunters in the animal kingdom. It’s a pretty safe bet that an eagle won’t need glasses.
Eagles and falcons don’t have the same advantages in the darkness, though.
The award for best night vision goes to owls. Part of why owls can see so well in the dark is because they can move their heads almost all the way around without even moving their bodies. Owls really have ‘eyes in the back of their heads.’ Owls also have a reflective surface behind their retina called the tapetum lucidum. This surface allows owls to see light twice – once when viewing the object and a second time after it’s already passed through their eyes. Owls also have wider irises at night, which helps more light reach their retina.
Sheep and goats have pupils that are horizontal in shape, which gives them a wider field of vision than most animals. When sheep and goats lower their heads, their eyes rotate – giving them a constant view of the landscape around them. This helps them to ward off prey and stay safe.
The mantis shrimp has the ability to move its eyes independently like a chameleon. This helps them to detect differences in colour quickly, which can be useful in finding prey, meeting mates and avoiding anyone who wants to eat them for lunch. Both a mantis shrimp and a chameleon can have each eye pointed in a different direction, which means they can see two things at once. (That’s a superpower I wish I had).
Dragonflies have three separate eyes called ocelli. This helps dragonflies detect and react to motion more quickly than humans can. Some people think that dragonflies can see in slow motion, which makes them excellent predators and some of the fastest insects in the world.
Which animal vision ‘superpower’ do you wish you had? Night vision? Seeing in slow motion? Seeing two things at once?