Weird Sea Mollusk Found With Hundreds Of Eyes Embedded In Its Armor

Posted: Nov 20 2015, 8:36pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News


Weird Creature Found with Hundred of Eyes Embedded in its Armor
A region of Chiton's shell surface with multiple eye, Credit: SEAS and Wyss Institute at Harvard University

The eyes are made of the same material as the body armor and the creature can actually see out of the stoney eyes.

A unique sea creature has a protective armor that is unlike anything else in the world. It is covered with hundreds of eyes and all the eyes are made up of the same material as its armor.

Chiton is a type of  sea mollusk and its tough shell is made of overlapping plates which protects it from lurking predators but the remarkable thing is its entire shell also has strange tiny eyes.

Scientists have known about these eyes for a while now, but they were not sure whether Chitons could actually see out of them or what the extent of their capacity was. Scientists have now found that Chiton’s eyes are real and can see an 8 inch long fish from six and a half feet away.

A group of researchers led by Harvard University have thoroughly looked at its complex structure and found that its microscopic eyes are made up of crystalline material known as aragonite, the same mineral which assembled the body armor. Its unlike most of the eyes which are made of organic proteins. 

The unique creature peers at everything virtually through the eye of rocks and can detect light as well. When the light was flashed over it, the animal moves and flattens its armor against whatever it was resting upon.

Researchers are interested in this marine creature to take clues for futuristic multifunctional materials because Chiton represents two different functions – vision and defense – working in the same suit of armor.

“To date, artificial materials that have the ability to perform multiple and often structurally opposite functions are not available. We can not yet rationally design them but studying different multifunctional biomaterials present in nature should ultimately allow us to deduct the key principles for this relatively new area of materials science,” Joanna Aizenberg, Professor of Materials Science at SEAS and Core Faculty member at the Wyss Institute, said.

Ling Li, a postdoctoral fellow working with Aizenberg and a co-first author of the study explained. “The investigation of Nature’s finest “multitasking artists” can provide insight into functional synergies and trade-offs in multifunctional materials and guide us in other studies toward the development of revolutionary biomimetic materials. We thus are probably one step closer to construct houses made of a material that is not only mechanically robust, but also furnished with lenses capable of flexibly regulating light and temperature inside and sense environmental conditions,”

Source: Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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