Since you and I (and our pets) only have two eyes, it can be hard to believe that there are animals out there with multiple eyes. Then again, the animal kingdom is a fascinating world of unique and interesting surprises. Some animals, for instance, have far better hearing and sight than us. And then there are the animals that have 360-degree vision.
Those additional eyes aren’t there for no reason. For some fish and amphibians, that extra eye or two helps them to regulate their body temperature and find their way around via the sun’s light. For some invertebrates and mammals, additional eyes help them spot and hunt prey. Since our body structures different so significantly, certain animals need multiple eyes in order to see their full surroundings.
If you’re curious about animals with the most eyes, meet the animals that have more than two eyes.
Iguanas are herbivorous lizards commonly found in Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. They have a third eye on top of their heads, known as the parietal eye. While it can’t discern shapes or color, it does discern light and movement, enabling iguanas to spot predatory birds from above. It’s definitely handy having that extra eye as it keeps them safe. And their regular eyes pitch in to help as they can see movement at large distances.
Bees are known to have five eyes: two compound eyes and three eyes known as ocellus or ocelli. This insect needs eyes not only to see colors and UV markings in flowers, but also to navigate. The two large eyes at the side of a bee’s head (known as compound eyes) are used for distinguishing shapes and colors in their immediate environment, whereas the three small eyes on the top of the head (ocelli) are essential for navigation. Both sets of eyes play different roles, but are crucial for keeping bees thriving. Next time you see a bee buzzing about, try to steal a little glance and see if you can spot those additional eyes!
Starfish don’t have regular eyes like you and I. They have five – one on the tip of each arm. They’re known as eyespots, and while they can’t detect color or fast-moving objects, they can see light and dark and even large structures. Compared to other animals out there, a starfish’s vision is pretty limited – even with those extra three eyes. However, like every animal in the kingdom, there’s a logic behind their capabilities.
Scorpions have eight legs, two main body regions, and up to twelve eyes (or five pairs), depending on the species: two eyes on top and two to five lateral eyes on the side. With all those eyes, you’d think the scorpion had exceptional vision. Surprisingly, scorpions can’t see very well at all. The main role of their eyes is to distinguish movement and light from dark.
Research shows that butterflies have approximately 12000 compound eyes. Some of them are single eyes and others are compound eyes. The single eyes focus mainly on individual objects, while their 12000 compound eyes are used as their primary eyesight. Butterflies can see lightwaves from 254 to 600 nm – an asset they use to search out food, identify predators and seek a suitable mate.
Butterfly species with exceptional vision include the Monarch Butterfly and Australian Swallowtail Butterfly.
Jumping spiders are active hunters, so they need razor sharp eyesight to be able to track down their prey. They usually have eight eyes: two huge ones at the front to see color and distance, and extra side eyes to detect movement.
You might be wondering why spiders need eight eyes when we get on perfectly well with two. Well, it’s not as straightforward as that. One reason human eyes are different to spider eyes is because we’re built differently. Spiders, for instance, do not have necks, so they can’t turn to look at things. Thus, they need eyes in all areas to be able to see everything – and their eyes do different jobs.
A spider’s large central eyes are best for discerning shapes, while its side eyes play an important role in spotting predators. Sure, they look a little terrifying, but all those eyes are there to keep him safe and thriving.
Chiton, otherwise known as sea cradles, loricates, or polyplacophorans, are sea creatures that have thousands of tiny eyes on their shell – all featuring a light sensitive cell and a lens. Interestingly, the lens of each eye is made from the same material as its shell, so it’s basically like rock. Weird, huh? And the reason they have so many eyes is most likely a backup since their eyes can literally erode.
Chitons may be the only species with rocky eyes like this. According to scientists, there once existed an ocean animal known as trilobites, which had lenses made from limestone. However, that group of animals went extinct a long time ago.
A praying mantis has five eyes: two compound eyes for seeing movement and three smaller eyes located on the middle of their head for detecting light. While they may have more eyes than you could ever wish for, many praying mantises only have one ear – located in the middle of their belly. It’s crazy how the animal kingdom works, but I guess these animals were created that way for a purpose. Maybe the praying mantis needs better sight than he does hearing. Hence the reason for the solo ear.
Many people think that flies have thousands of eyes. It turns out, they actually only have two eyes but these eyes are equivalent to thousands of eyes. Unlike humans, flies have compound eyes – eyes that are made of thousands of eyes. While humans only have two eye lenses, one in each eye, flies have compound eyes each consisting of 4000-4500 individual lenses. This provided them a wide vision so that they can easily catch prey.
Dragonflies have two compound eyes and three simple eyes. Each retina contains thousands of photoreceptors that collect light and process information about their visual surroundings. It might seem strange that flies need so many eyes, but compared to humans who don’t seek out prey, most animals in the animal kingdom need that extra protection in order to survive. Next time you see a dragonfly, see if you can spot those extra three eyes!
Box jellyfish possess a profound visual system. With 24 eyes of four different kinds, this animal is able to easily navigate their way around the mangrove swamps where they reside. The eyes are grouped into four clusters, each containing six eyes. Four of them can detect the presence of light while the other two can see images – with the help of light-detecting lenses.
The four-eyed fish, as it is known, has eyes divided into two parts: the upper half for vision in air, and the lower half for underwater vision. It’s quite a remarkable trait, allowing this fish to swim along the surface with eyes in and out of the water. This enables the four-eyed fish to see two very different environments at the same time. It’s definitely a unique ability not seen in any other species of fish.
Frankly, I think it would be super cool to have an extra pair or two of eyes just to make life easier and more interesting. But I’ll take the two I have! They’ve done me well so far!
The Anomalocaris is extinct. However, it still makes the list for its uniqueness. Although the Anomalocaris only has two eyes, the amount of lenses it has is at least 16,700.
These razor sharp eyes allowed the Anomalocaris to be a top predator in the ocean.
Yes Clams really do have eyes. You may not think it, but giant clams have 700 pinhole eyes. These eyes are used for detecting changes in light and movement.
This helps them detect and protect themselves from predators when their figures pass over a clam. The slight change in light would be picked up by a clams sensitive eyes.
Interestingly, some clams also have compound eyes, which are eyes with multiple visual units. Think of them as smaller eyes within a big eye.
So surprisingly, clams have eyes that are more complex than you think!
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