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A Unique Advantage for Giant Eyes in Giant Squid.

Nilsson, Dan-E LU ; Warrant, Eric LU ; Johnsen, Sönke; Hanlon, Roger and Shashar, Nadav (2012) In Current Biology 22(8). p.683-688
Abstract
Giant and colossal deep-sea squid (Architeuthis and Mesonychoteuthis) have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom [1, 2], but there is no explanation for why they would need eyes that are nearly three times the diameter of those of any other extant animal. Here we develop a theory for visual detection in pelagic habitats, which predicts that such giant eyes are unlikely to evolve for detecting mates or prey at long distance but are instead uniquely suited for detecting very large predators, such as sperm whales. We also provide photographic documentation of an eyeball of about 27 cm with a 9 cm pupil in a giant squid, and we predict that, below 600 m depth, it would allow detection of sperm whales at distances exceeding 120 m. With this... (More)
Giant and colossal deep-sea squid (Architeuthis and Mesonychoteuthis) have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom [1, 2], but there is no explanation for why they would need eyes that are nearly three times the diameter of those of any other extant animal. Here we develop a theory for visual detection in pelagic habitats, which predicts that such giant eyes are unlikely to evolve for detecting mates or prey at long distance but are instead uniquely suited for detecting very large predators, such as sperm whales. We also provide photographic documentation of an eyeball of about 27 cm with a 9 cm pupil in a giant squid, and we predict that, below 600 m depth, it would allow detection of sperm whales at distances exceeding 120 m. With this long range of vision, giant squid get an early warning of approaching sperm whales. Because the sonar range of sperm whales exceeds 120 m [3-5], we hypothesize that a well-prepared and powerful evasive response to hunting sperm whales may have driven the evolution of huge dimensions in both eyes and bodies of giant and colossal squid. Our theory also provides insights into the vision of Mesozoic ichthyosaurs with unusually large eyes. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Current Biology
volume
22
issue
8
pages
683 - 688
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • wos:000303288300020
  • pmid:22425154
  • scopus:84860315821
ISSN
1879-0445
DOI
10.1016/j.cub.2012.02.031
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
bb6eef5c-1af7-462f-afaf-5ec0b5fcd20e (old id 2431696)
date added to LUP
2012-05-08 09:59:32
date last changed
2017-09-24 03:01:54
@article{bb6eef5c-1af7-462f-afaf-5ec0b5fcd20e,
  abstract     = {Giant and colossal deep-sea squid (Architeuthis and Mesonychoteuthis) have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom [1, 2], but there is no explanation for why they would need eyes that are nearly three times the diameter of those of any other extant animal. Here we develop a theory for visual detection in pelagic habitats, which predicts that such giant eyes are unlikely to evolve for detecting mates or prey at long distance but are instead uniquely suited for detecting very large predators, such as sperm whales. We also provide photographic documentation of an eyeball of about 27 cm with a 9 cm pupil in a giant squid, and we predict that, below 600 m depth, it would allow detection of sperm whales at distances exceeding 120 m. With this long range of vision, giant squid get an early warning of approaching sperm whales. Because the sonar range of sperm whales exceeds 120 m [3-5], we hypothesize that a well-prepared and powerful evasive response to hunting sperm whales may have driven the evolution of huge dimensions in both eyes and bodies of giant and colossal squid. Our theory also provides insights into the vision of Mesozoic ichthyosaurs with unusually large eyes.},
  author       = {Nilsson, Dan-E and Warrant, Eric and Johnsen, Sönke and Hanlon, Roger and Shashar, Nadav},
  issn         = {1879-0445},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {8},
  pages        = {683--688},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Current Biology},
  title        = {A Unique Advantage for Giant Eyes in Giant Squid.},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2012.02.031},
  volume       = {22},
  year         = {2012},
}