Research

Mollusk Wears Armor of Eyes

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This bizarre creature, hundreds eyes from ceramic lenses

In other words, the mollusk's shells have eyes in them. The species were successful in evading a compromise in its evolution wherein most mollusk trade-off their sight for protection.

A tiny marine creature built with hundreds of eyes hidden in it's armored shell could become the inspiration for futuristic building materials.

To put in Skyrim terms, the chiton gets a bonus for mix-and-matching the powers of both light and heavy armor, as opposed to limiting itself to one or the other.

Researchers have long looked to mollusks and their sturdy shells for inspiration when it comes to constructing innovative, artificial, building materials. That is, their lenses focus light on a photoreceptor-covered retina, which then produces a real image, UPI reports. But unlike many other chiton mollusks, this one can see everything that is happening around it. Though the two are made of the same mineral, the aragonite in the eyes has a different crystalline structure. Li and [Matthew] Connors found that they collapse under forces that barely dent the rest of the plates.

Since these chitons live in the intertidal zone - meaning they are sometimes underwater and sometimes exposed to air - their eyes need to be able to work in both environments. The retinas are also small and can only host limited receptors.

By connecting this material to an information processor, like a computer, we could create armor that can basically see around it, without leaving any various blind spots for the user.

A group of scientists from Harvard University and the MA Institute of Technology in Cambridge discovered that each microscopic eye has it's own complex structure, including photoreceptive cells that can sense approaching predators. Each eye consists of a large pear-shaped chamber beneath the lens, and these cavities, full of soft sensory tissues, create weaknesses in the chiton armour. These lenses are made from aragonite, a type of calcium, which is found in most mollusks. The small creatures - in regards to resembling ancient trilobites, and the magnitude of a potato chip - are discovered in several areas of the planet, but are discovered, as they resemble the stone they stick to. The study measured the mollusk's eye-focusing capabilities.

The scientists hope that their rare find and analysis can lead to future material applications such as military gadgetry that can operate in harsh conditions. In addition, he performs and writes poetry, and has won numerous contests.

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