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Earth Science

Spookfish Uses Mirrors For Eyes 81

Posted by timothy
from the still-working-on-the-trenchcoat dept.
Kligat writes "The brownsnout spookfish in the Pacific is the first known vertebrate to use mirrors to focus light into its eyes. Despite being a species known for 120 years, this was not known until a live specimen was caught between New Zealand and Samoa last year. The fish lives over 1,000 meters below the ocean's surface, so the light focused by the mirrors' perfectly curved surfaces provides a major advantage over other fish."
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Spookfish Uses Mirrors For Eyes

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  • (Sorry.)

    • by artson (728234)
      According to the article, "The mirror uses tiny plates, probably of guanine crystals, arranged into a multi-layer stack. "

      Not sure why there should be any doubt what the mirrors are made of. Maybe they can't determine the makeup of the mirror from dead specimens.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @04:37PM (#26362729)
        According to the article, "The mirror uses tiny plates, probably of guanine crystals, arranged into a multi-layer stack."

        I know the British spell things differently than us, but there wasn't an 'a' in 'genuine' last time I checked.
      • by randyest (589159)
        Why would that be, unless the mirrors are made of some radioactive material that somehow doesn't decay until the fish is dead? Since, of course, they are almost certainly not made of such a fanciful material, I can only assume that the researchers have not yet managed to get a mirror sample into a gas chromatographer / mass spectrometer yet. Which is a shame.
        • Re:That's Spooky! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mr_mischief (456295) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @05:39PM (#26363775) Journal

          There's an old saying that fish rot from the head first. Perhaps no dead specimens have been found with the eyes intact, and they've not yet cut the live specimen up to test the eyes.

          • by Qzukk (229616)

            There's an old saying that fish rot from the head first

            This is probably the real reason. Lots of organic stuff decays on contact with air, probably by the time anyone takes a good look at the fish's eyes, they've already turned black.

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by samurphy21 (193736)

              I suspect that any fish meant to live 1000m deep would undergo explosive decompression on being brought to the surface, eyeballs first.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    How does it taste?
  • Lenses? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tsa (15680) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @04:29PM (#26362577) Homepage

    If it uses mirrors to focus light in its eyes it doesn't need lenses. And the use of mirrors means no chromatic abberation, which means a sharper image! What a smart 'design.' The things Nature comes up with never cease to amaze me.

    • by SQLGuru (980662)

      And the use of mirrors means no chromatic abberation, which means a sharper image!

      I'm sorry. Sharper Image is bankrupt. Your gift card is worthless.

  • Maybe *this* eye will be irreducibly complex...

    • In order to determine something to be irreducibly complex, all one has to do is find an evaluator with absolutely no analytical ability or imagination.

      Thankfully, those people are everywhere.
      • by Artifakt (700173)

        As somebody with coke bottle lens glasses, I've always wondered why anyone would think eyes make a good example of irreducible complexity in the first place. Obviously, not all eyes are perfect, and even an imperfect eye is better than none (although I'm sure I'd be in a leopard's belly by now if I was a proto-human).
        Still, even a very basic eye-spot is of some use and might help an organism survive. Unless the argument is that the critter has to have at least a single eye-spot, a very basic optic nerve, an

        • Sexuality is not irreducible at all. You have this small couple-cell organism that reproduces asexually by division and cloning its minute DNA. This goes on for millenia, so that in any given hospitable location these organisms are incredibly densely packed, as in, in constant contact.

          Then sometime, there is a mutation during the cloning process of two of the microbes whereby instead of an exact copy of each being made, potions of their DNA is instead swapped, because they are trying to reproduce adjacently

  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @04:32PM (#26362635) Homepage Journal

    Any Spookfish got a mirror?

  • Dopefish (Score:3, Funny)

    by mfh (56) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @04:34PM (#26362659) Journal

    The Dopefish [wikipedia.org] uses complex pot-philosophy for inner-vision.

  • Sounds like the basis for a scary story.
    "As he looked into the spookfish's eye, he saw...himself."
  • by SirLurksAlot (1169039) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @04:40PM (#26362779)

    This evolutionary development is in response to the Spookfish's natural enemy, the Medusa!

  • by jafiwam (310805) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @05:00PM (#26363147) Homepage Journal

    I just stumbled around trying to find a catalog of the number of types and design details of the number of times eyes have evolved.

    Wiki has it at 6. Is this 7?

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @05:06PM (#26363225) Homepage

    Texas Instruments, the holder of several patents related to DLP technolgy has filed suit in a Texas court with a complaint related to the use of their tiny mirror imaging technology.

  • //first thing I think of when I hear mirror eyes/shades

  • by jbezorg (1263978) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @05:51PM (#26363925)
    There, now it's been done.
  • by Myrv (305480) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @06:32PM (#26364597)

    I was having trouble visualizing how this works but then I found this link with a diagram of the eye's anatomy [scienceblogs.com]

  • Is that anything like the Corneyed Lumpfish that frequent my septic pool?

  • The actual scientific publication is currently an advanced article (i.e. available online, but not yet in print) in Current Biology. I found the beginning of the experimental procedures interesting (emphasis mine): "A single specimen of Dolichopteryx longipes..." They deduced an awful lot of information from one fish. There's pictures of the fish and the eyes in the article. I don't understand much of the articles, but the pictures and diagrams are fascinating.
  • "the light focused by the mirrors' perfectly curved surfaces provides a major advantage over other fish."

    I guess that's evolution for you, with all of its perfectly curved surfaces. One hell of a design for having no designer other than selection and millions of years of trial and error, right? That's how one perfects complex genetic encoding, right? Really makes a lot of sense to so many of you, doesn't it? :-D
    • by mikael (484)

      Animals such as cats and dogs (and even albinohumans) have reflective surfaces in their eyes, the tapetum lucidum [npr.org].

      For any creature that hunts at night, any modification that increase the amount of photons that reaches the rods and cones of the retina are going to be of benefit. Having this reflective in front of the retina would also be to an advantage. For a creature living underwater, having a reflective surface that concentrates light from above into the retina would also be an advantage, but it would no

  • "The brownsnout spookfish in the Pacific is the first known vertebrate to use mirrors to focus light into its eyes"

    We've been using mirrors for telescopes for a lot longer than we've known about the spookfish.

  • They should rename it he Hubblefish.

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