Is there any evidence that eyes have evolved several times independently of one another?

Published - April 13, 2024 09:10 pm IST

Scientists have discovered a bristle worm with such sharp-seeing eyes that they can measure up to those of mammals and octopuses. The Vanadis bristle worm, also known as polychaetes which are nocturnal, has eyes as big as millstones, relatively speaking. As a set, the worm’s eyes weigh about twenty times as much as the rest of the animal’s head. Research has demonstrated that this worm can use its eyes to see small objects and track their movements. Its eyesight is on a par with that of mice or rats, despite being a relatively simple organism with a miniscule brain. These worms see ultraviolet light. This may indicate that the purpose of its eyes is to see bioluminescent signals in the otherwise pitch-black nighttime sea. Vanadis’ eyes are built simply, but equipped with advanced functionality. They have evolved in a relatively short evolutionary time span of just a few million years. This means that they must have developed independently of, for example, human eyes, and that the development of vision, even with a high level of function, is possible in a relatively short time. So eyes seem to have arisen several times, independently of one another, in evolutionary history. There are a number of pieces of evidence to support this. The eyes of the Vanadis worm are another powerful piece of evidence in that direction.

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