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Picture of the Day

Tiny eyes see big opportunities

With the increasing advantages of DNA sequencing, biologists are unraveling many evolutionary mysteries behind the complex world of spider vision. Looking closely at the mysterious genetic blueprint for how these peepers developed and function is helping researchers see great opportunities for future research. New studies could include gene therapies in humans with visual problems, such as macular degeneration or retinal cancer. To advance this field of research, scientists had to search 500 million years back to a time called the Cambrian Period to put the evolution of spider eye genes into perspective. This collaborative study helps to describe the fundamentals for how spiders evolved from an ancient arthropod with a compound eye with lots of facets -- the hexagonal-shaped light sensitive units that make up a compound eye -- to multiple eyes with just a few facets.

Visit Website | Image credit: Daniel Zurek