390 Million Years Ago, This Trilobite Developed a "Hyper-Eye" with 200 Lenses

Back in the 1970s, radiologist and amateur paleontologist Wilhelm Stürmer took some x-ray images of trilobites of the suborder Phacopina from the Devonian age. (These were arthropods that became extinct about 251 million years ago.) At the time, Stürmer believed that the filaments under the arthropod's eyes were nerves that served as a light guiding system. Unfortunately, scientists did not believe his theory. Now, decades later, a re-examination of Stürmer's images proved that his conjectures were true after all.

The research team today has learned that the trilobite's eye system was unique. Each eye contained about 200 large lenses that spanned six normal compound-eye-facets, which formed a compound eye. Furthermore, scientists have identified a structure thought to directly process visual information from this hyper-eye.

It is believed that this hyper-eye was an evolutionary adaptation, as the trilobite lived in low-light environments.

Learn more about this trilobite and the study over at the University of Cologne.

(Image via University of Cologne)

#Evolution #Trilobite #Eye #XrayImageAnalysis #Adaptation

(Image: Schoenemann et al. via Nature)

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