Extraordinary Vision in Animals

Eye of a hawk in New Orleans, LA

Extraordinary vision in the animal kingdom is not only limited to majestic birds of prey like eagles and hawks. In the wild, vision truly is a matter of life and death. Animals’ eyes have evolved in many diverse ways to provide precise and specialized vision necessary for survival. This helps animals of all shapes and sizes either find their next meal or prevent them from becoming someone else’s. Here are some interesting examples.

Chameleon

When most people think of chameleons, they imagine their ability to mimic their surroundings, but they can actually do something even more extraordinary; they can move each eye independently of the other. This gives them stereoscopic vision, which allows the chameleon enhanced depth perception for prey identification. With stereoscopic vision and camouflage ability, chameleons are able to hunt with a high degree of accuracy while remaining protected from predators.

Ogre-Faced Spider

This terrifying looking and sounding spider has a set of big, bright eyes perched on top of its small head. These large eyes are covered with a light-sensitive membrane that gives them nocturnal vision. This allows the spider to remain still and largely unnoticed during the day and do most of their net-casting hunting when their own predators are asleep.

Goat

You read that right: goats made the list. Most people wouldn’t think of this common farm animal as having any extraordinary characteristics, but goats and many other hooved animals actually have spectacular vision. Instead of possessing round pupils, these animals have almost rectangular, horizontal slits for pupils, which allow them to have nearly panoramic vision. This is very helpful for finding and identifying predators in the wide open grazing fields where they spend most of their days. Goats also have excellent night vision, and, unlike many animals, they can recognize numerous colors and shades of brightness.