Evolution of Eyes
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Compound Eye of a Shrimp


Magnification: 500:1

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This image shows the surface (lens) area of a crustacean compound eye. Shrimps and lobsters have compound eyes with square facets (i.e. homogeneous box-like structures). Back in the 1950s and 1960s this has caused quite some confusion among scientists because no optical function could be ascribed to square lens elements for almost 20 years. Thus, shrimps remained blind from a theoretical point of view, because scientists were unable to explain the functionality of their eye with a mathematical model until the mirror-box design was detected and showed that in the eye of crustaceans ray-bending is not done by the lens but by mirror in the wall of each single lens (omatidia). Clearly, the mirror-box design only works with right-angle corners – and not with hexagons as found among insects – but the resultant image of both, insects and a crustaceans, are of a comparable quality.