January 9, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Posted in The Knave | Leave a comment

eyeUsed for detecting light and, in more advanced eyes, identifying differences in light wave absorption and reflection by matter, eyes help you find stuff you want to find, like where your friend hid the Oreos, and avoid stuff you want to avoid, such as open manholes. Lots of critters have eyes. Fish, birds, lizards, insects, mammals and so on have eyes. In ancient times, dinosaurs and wooly mammoths both had eyes, although there is no evidence they saw their extinction coming. Every creature that exists in light has eyes and even many cave dwelling animals have some degree of sight, even if it is rarely used. Seeing is just so terribly useful in navigating a three dimensional world. It’s hard to get on in life without seeing, especially when being stalked by a puma. Sharks may be able to detect blood in water from a distance, but an eyeless shark doesn’t ever find the bloody fish and the eyeless fish doesn’t see the shark and hide in the coral and the eyeless coral is just fine, because coral aren’t exactly going to slip on a banana peel while walking down the street.

Unless you are a coral, not being able to see is a bummer. Sure there are ways for blind creatures to get around, but if echo location is so great, why is it that every species of bat can see? Try defusing that bomb by hearing the blue wire that needs to be cut. Touch, smell, and taste are somewhat useful at close range; however, eyes will let you sense that softball flying towards your head in time to duck. If you’ve touched it, it has hit you. If you’ve tasted it, it has hit you in the face. If you’ve smelled it, it has not only hit you, but knocked you down so your nose is next to where the ball came to rest. (If the ball stank so bad, that you smelled it in time to duck, what they hell did they do to that ball?) Let’s face it, the blind squirrel doesn’t ever find a nut, because a sighted squirrel saw that nut and ate it.

Depending on who you talk to, sight has evolved independently a multitude of times, because it really is so very useful. Without eyes, cats wouldn’t suddenly notice that bottle cap over there and pounce on it. Or what about that piece of string? But that bottle cap is getting away! Pounce. Pounce! Swat! …and bored again. Although dogs may find the butt they want to sniff well enough with their noses, it is their eyes they use to get their nostrils into just the right place. You never see a dog close its eyes and take a big whiff. Birds actually evolved the ability to fly so they could see more stuff than when they had been relegated to the ground, not just so they could poop on the unsuspecting. Fish love looking at stuff with their eyes so much that they never even evolved eyelids. Of course, it helps that in the water their eyes don’t have to worry about drying out. Land critters can suffer from dry eyes and have a whole disgusting system connecting their eyes to their ears to their noses to their mouths so they can pump salt water and mucous onto their balls to keep them moist, but eye boogers are a small price to pay for the ability to find out what’s on TV. –The Knave

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