The eye shapes of predator and prey are, surprisingly, very distinct, and can be attributed to a rule, a new study shows. Form the cat that prowls about in the wild, to the one sitting nicely on your front porch, they all hunt, and they all have a very specific form of the eye.
It seems that indeed, Survivor were right – if you want to, well, survive, it’s all in the eye of the tiger. In fact, a great deal of eyes have been looked at by researchers from the British University of Durham, and of the California Berkeley University. And what they found was a strange set of similarities between predators, as well as between preys.
The eyes convey information about social status in the animal kingdom. No matter what the socialists might say, there is an innate social order present there as well. Even more so than in the human world. And it depends on the precise geometry of the eye, on whether the eye shape is vertical or horizontal. Apparently, those with more horizontal eyes are the hunted, while the others are the hunters.
But it’s not that simple. We need to go deeper.
The study that prompted the current research is a text from 1942 which has become a classic in the field of biology. In it the main theory says that it is logical for slit-shaped pupils can allow for better vision due to an intricate musculature and a greater range for the light to enter the eye. So the team wanted to further explore this idea by testing why some slits are sometimes vertical and sometimes horizontal.
So, in the study published in Science Advances, the team looks at 214 animals and their eyes. They studied cats, snakes, dogs, hyenas, mongooses, rhinos, and even tapirs. And the pattern they found was that those smaller animals which hide in the shadows and wait for prey have vertically narrowing pupils, while prowling hunters have the same trait only much more pronounced.
The cat in your home has all the reason to believe itself superior to you. Since it is itself a hunter, its pupil gaze area can change by 135 times. We humans can only reduce it 15 times. Petty lame of us. But it has to do with the fact that we are tall, and don’t need more than that. Humans, along with tigers and lions, have circular pupils corresponding to round eyes.
So it’s safe to say that we are up there next to the lion king.
Image source: nyt.com