BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Researchers found the mollusk with hundreds of armored eyes that can actually benefit future protective developments for military or heavy industry. It’s another exceptional feature that is found in nature, and could potentially aid in advancing technology.
Scientists from Harvard University have turned their attention to a sea-dwelling creature by the name of Acanthopleura granulata (or chitons). The tiny mollusks have an intricate system that keeps their vision along with a tough, well protected armor to protect them from danger or hard impacts. In fact, their bodies are littered with hundreds of tiny black eyes. Those numbers can go up to 1,000 for some.
These transparent lenses are also very difficult to break. They’re made of a similar material that can be found within the shell, particularly aragonite. It’s a ceramic material that is incredibly tough, unlike protein, which is the main material for most. It’s more commonly found in things such as pearls or abalone shells. This exceptional trait offers the tiny eyes of the mollusk an incredible quality.
This successfully allows the chitons to monitor the environment without compromising their safety. And there are hundreds upon hundreds of them. They are also made to adapt themselves to both underwater environments or exposed to air. Through theoretical 3D modeling, and proper measurements, the team were able to prove that they’re actually functional, not just there for show.
Even though they’re around 1/10 of a millimeter, the numerous eyes on the back of chitons work just fine. After their testing, researchers found that they were capable of actually forming images, and not just areas meant to receive light. Many believed that due to their minute sizes that they could not properly functions, previously to their study.
Even more, their eyes are further protected not just by the tough material, but by their positioning as well. There are certain “valleys” in between them that take the brunt of the damage in case of impact. This is rather needed, since most often confuse the mollusk with a common rock. The protective dents in between further aid in keeping the chitons’ eyes safe.
However, if one of their eyes does happen to take damage, another will take its place.
Researchers hope that their findings might lead to bio-inspired materials that could provide protection within multiple fields. This could be used in both military and heavy industries where safety to great damage is avidly needed while keeping clear visibility.
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