Seeing Sea stars: The missing link in eye evolution?


A study has shown for the first time that starfish use primitive eyes at the tip of their arms to visually navigate their environment. Research headed by Dr. Anders Garm at the Marine Biological Section of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, showed that starfish eyes are image-forming and could be an essential stage in eye evolution.

The researchers removed starfish with and without eyes from their food rich habitat, the coral reef, and placed them on the sand bottom one metre away, where they would starve. They monitored the starfishes' behaviour from the surface and found that while starfish with intact eyes head towards the direction of the reef, starfish without eyes walk randomly.

Dr Garm said: "The results show that the starfish nervous system must be able to process visual information, which points to a clear underestimation of the capacity found in the circular and somewhat dispersed central nervous system of echinoderms."

Written By: Science Daily
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  1. We too can see primitively with the tips of our fingers – or any of our skin cells. After all, we all can detect infrared radiation on our skin. One does not need eyes to detect up and down on a sunny day. Perhaps this is how eyes first got started in some species.

  2. Correct me if I am wrong, but olfaction is related to terrestrial and aquatic mammals. The chemical reseptors as per defined by echinoderms are not catologed in these terms.

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