Evolutions Witness: How Eyes Evolved

Hardcover | November 3, 2011

byIvan R Schwab

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With predation and carnivory as catalysts, the first known eye appeared in a trilobite during the Cambrian explosion approximately 543 million years ago. This period was a crucible of evolution and teemed with anatomic creativity although the journey to formed vision actually began billionsof years before that. The Cambrian period, however, spawned nearly all morphologic forms of the eye, followed by descent over hundreds of millions of years providing an unimaginable variety of eyes with at least ten different designs. Some eyes display spectacular creativity with mirror, scanning or telephoto optics.Some of these ocular designs are merely curiosities, while others offer the finest visual potential packed into a small space, limited only by the laws of diffraction or physiological optics. For example, some spiders developed tiny, well-formed eyes with scanning optics and three visual pigments; scallops have 40-100 eyes circling their mantle, each of which has mirror optics and contains two separate retinae per eye; deep ocean fish have eyes shaped like tubes containing yellow lensesto break camouflage; and some birds have vision five times better than ours; but this is only part of the story. Each animal alive today has an eye that fits is niche perfectly demonstrating the intimacy of the evolutionary process as no other organ could. The evolution of the eye is one of thebest examples of Darwinian principles.Although few eyes fossilize in any significant manner, many details of this evolution are known and understood. From initial photoreception 3.75 billion years ago to early spatial recognition in the first cupped eyespot in Euglena to fully formed camera style eyes the size of beach balls inichthyosaurs, animals have processed light to compete and survive in their respective niches.It is evolution's greatest gift and its greatest triumph. This is the story of the evolution of the eye.

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With predation and carnivory as catalysts, the first known eye appeared in a trilobite during the Cambrian explosion approximately 543 million years ago. This period was a crucible of evolution and teemed with anatomic creativity although the journey to formed vision actually began billionsof years before that. The Cambrian period, ho...

Ivan R. Schwab M.D. is currently a professor at the University of California, Davis where he has worked as an Ophthalmologist for over twenty years, and was on the faculty at West Virginia University for seven years before coming to UCD. He has published extensively in these fields, with three previous books to his credit, and he was...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:328 pages, 0.12 × 0.12 × 0.12 inPublished:November 3, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195369742

ISBN - 13:9780195369748

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Table of Contents

1. The age of first cellular life Archean 3750-2500 million years ago2. The age of complex cellular life3. Eukaryotes organize and metozoans arise4. Early animals prepare the ground5. Vision's big bang blazes the trail6. The age of Arthropods: A major phylum begins7. Vertebrates gain a foothold8. Shelly fauna rule the sea9. The piscine eye develops10. The piscine eye matures Early Devonian Period11. Insects arise to fly Paleozoic Era12. Stealth, Speed and Predation Paleozoic Era13. The age of Tetrapods and Terrestrials Late Devonian Period14. Terrestrial life flourishes Carboniferous 362-299 million years ago15. Reptiles push the ocular envelope The age of reptiles16. March of the Archosaurs Mesozoic Era17. Dinosaurs and their companions Mesozoic Era18. Cephalopods change direction Mesozoic Era19. Snakes arise from the ground Cretaceous (145-65million years ago)20. . The Age of Birds - The eye is taken to great heights Mesozoic Era21. Pollinators Co-Evolve22. Mammalia diversifies23. The Age of Mammals24. Planktonic soup evolves Cenozoic Era25. Mammals return to the sea26. The visual witness and a conscious brain Cenozoic Era