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Starfish Actually Have Eyes, And It Turns Out They See Very Well In The Deep Sea

Source: The New York Times/Joanna Klein - February 12, 2018 in Science/Tech

Starfish Actually Have Eyes, And It Turns Out They See Very Well In The Deep Sea
Photo: Peter Southwood/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Look at a starfish in a tidal pool and you may think: ah, there’s one of those pretty, multi-armed sea worms that crawl around and don’t do much. But look deeper and your views might change.

Hundreds of feet below the ocean’s surface, some starfish make their own light. And they can look right back at you too, with a teeny eye on the tip of each bendy starfish arm.

Scientists, who didn’t even know if deep sea starfish had eyes, did not expect to find this.

They collected starfish from Arctic waters off Greenland’s coast to determine which species had eyes, and for those who did, how well they could see. The researchers found that some starfish are far more biologically complex than previously thought, after looking at the structures of their eyes, their behavior in a simulated environment, whether they glowed in the dark and what tasks in the wild would make eyesight useful.

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