Was It Designed?
The Eye of the Peacock Mantis Shrimp
● The peacock mantis shrimp, found on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, is equipped with the most complex eyesight in the animal kingdom. “It really is exceptional,” says Dr. Nicholas Roberts, “outperforming anything we humans have so far been able to create.”
Consider: The peacock mantis shrimp can perceive polarized light and process it in ways that humans cannot do. Polarized light waves may travel along a straight line or rotate in a corkscrew motion. Unlike other creatures, this mantis shrimp not only sees polarized light in both its straight-line and corkscrew forms but is also able to convert the light from the one form to the other. This gives the shrimp enhanced vision.
DVD players work in a similar way. To process information, the DVD player must convert polarized light aimed at a disc into a corkscrew motion and then change it back into a straight-line format. But the peacock mantis shrimp goes a step further. While a standard DVD player only converts red light—or in higher-resolution players, blue light—the shrimp’s eye can convert light in all colors of the visible spectrum.
Researchers believe that using the peacock mantis shrimp’s eye as a model, engineers could develop a DVD player that plays discs with far more information than today’s DVDs. “What’s particularly exciting is how beautifully simple it is,” says Roberts. “It works much, much better than any attempts that we’ve made to construct a device.”
What do you think? Is the remarkable eye of the peacock mantis shrimp a product of chance? Or was it designed?
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Courtesy Stephen Childs