Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bigger the eyes, faster the animal

WASHINGTON: Mammals which have bigger eyes compared to their body size are more likely to be the fastest runners in the animal kingdom, researchers have found.

Animals with bigger eyes usually have better visual acuity which is beneficial when moving quickly, said study author Chris Kirk, an associate professor of anthropology at University of Texas, Austin. "Eye size is one of the most important factors for understanding visual abilities and the evolution of visual adaptations," Kirk told LiveScience.

"In vertebrates, increases in eye size can benefit both acuity (detail vision) and sensitivity (vision in dim light)."

Some animals rely more on senses other than eyesight, but for many it plays an important role. This seems to be especially true in fast runners, the researchers said.

"If you can think of mammals that are fast like a cheetah or horse, you can almost guarantee they have got really big eyes. This gives them better vision to avoid colliding with obstacles when they are moving very quickly," Kirk said.

To figure out what influences eye size, researchers collected measurements of eye size, body and speed in 50 mammals.

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