Jan 10, 2009

Four Eyes

I've posted on the spookfish before, but never from this angle, in this lighting, and with this new little tidbit. It's been recently discovered that this fish is the first vertebrate known to use powerful mirrors for eyes, instead of lenses.

Photo source: J
ulian Partridge/University of Bristol/PA via Guardian.co.uk

The spookfish appears to have four eyes. But in reality, they have two eyes, both of which are diverticular (new vocab alert!). One half of the eye points upward (toward food), and the other half looks down into the abyss (toward danger).

Photo source: ScienceDaily.com
Finding out how to use mirrors instead of lenses to see seems a bit like a solution searching for a problem, but it works for the spookfish. We only learned of this factoid recently because a live specimen had never been captured before. But when Professor Hans-Joachim Wagner from Tuebingen University got his hands on one, he was able to determine the diverticularishness (new fake vocab alert!) by using a series of camera flashes.

I'm sure the fish enjoyed being flashed at. I hate it, and I only have two lenses to worry about, and I have fancy eyelids to cover them. The little spookfish has four mirrors to shield, and no lids or hands to help.

Thanks for the article, dourocouli.


Anonymous said...

If his eyes become inflamed, I guess he won't have conjunctivitis, he'll have diverticulitis...

Seriously though, I would call his eyes catadioptric in design.

The Gravekeeper said...

He'd probably freak out if you put a mirror in front of him. Mirror overload...

Anonymous said...

amazing fish...good article.