Inside the Eye: Nature’s Most Exquisite Creation

To understand how animals see, look through their eyes.

“If you ask people what animal eyes are used for, they’ll say: same thing as human eyes. But that’s not true. It’s not true at all.”

In his lab at Lund University in Sweden, Dan-Eric Nilsson is contemplating the eyes of a box jellyfish. Nilsson’s eyes, of which he has two, are ice blue and forward facing. In contrast, the box jelly boasts 24 eyes, which are dark brown and grouped into four clusters called rhopalia. Nilsson shows me a model of one in his office: It looks like a golf ball that has sprouted tumors. A flexible stalk anchors it to the jellyfish.

“When I first saw them, I didn’t believe my own eyes,” says Nilsson. “They just look weird.”

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