All Eyes on the Creator

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on July 1, 2019

Scientists have spotted something magnificent in scallop eyes. Each of a scallop’s peepers—up to 200 in some species—contains not just one but two retinas and a curved, reflective surface made of flat crystals unique in the animal kingdom.

Recently, after eyeballing these eyeballs up close, scientists were surprised to find that these crystals are perfect squares fit together in a grid. In most cases, the DNA base guanine, which builds the crystals, grows in prisms, not flat squares.

For scallops to produce unusual square grids, scientists believe they must carefully control the crystal growth and placement. Each eye has a stack of 20–30 guanine sheets, creating a reflective surface like a mirror. Once light passes through the scallop’s retinas, it bounces off the mirror onto one of the two retinas. With this design, scientists think the scallop can even focus on multiple areas at once.

So why the jazzed-up eyes for such a “lowly” creature? Researchers aren’t sure, but they suspect these eyes allow scallops to view a wider area for food or predators.

One thing is sure: all creation—even scallop eyes—reveals the Creator’s attention to detail. We only need to open our eyes to see his glory.

A Closer Look

Scallop Eye

Scallop eyes are some of the most complex in creation:

  • In addition to two retinas, each eye contains a “mirror” made of guanine crystals that are only one thousandth of a millimeter wide.
  • A single layer of crystals is transparent, but a stack becomes reflective like a mirror. The precise distance between layers allows the scallop to see blue-green light, the predominate color in its natural environment.
  • The mirror is tilted slightly so one retina can focus on what’s in front of the scallop while the second focuses on other areas.
  • Though the eyes send all information to one cluster of neurons, scientists still aren’t sure whether the scallop’s brain examines the view from each eye separately or together in a single image.

Article was taken from Answers magazine, January–February, 2019, 38.