VS298: Animal Eyes

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This seminar will survey the wide variety of eye designs and visual systems found in the animal kingdom. Students will lead discussion each week based on readings from Land and Nilsson’s book, Animal Eyes, in addition to other articles from the literature.

Instructor: Bruno Olshausen

Enrollment information:

VS 298 (section 4), 2 units
CCN: 66495

Meeting time and place:

Thursdays 6-8, Evans 560


  • Animal Eyes by Michael Land and Dan Nilsson (Amazon)
  • Evolution's Witness: How Eyes Evolved by Ivan Schwab (Amazon)
  • In The Blink Of An Eye: How Vision Sparked The Big Bang Of Evolution by Andrew Parker (Amazon)


Date Topic/Reading Presenter
Jan. 26 Chapters 1,2: The origin of vision, Light and vision

+ Nilsson paper

Feb. 2 Chapter 3: What makes a good eye?

+ Jumping spider paper

Feb. 8 (Wed.) Chapter 4: Aquatic eyes: the evolution of the lens

+ Fernald paper, Jellyfish papers

Feb. 16 Chapter 5: Lens eyes on land

(hilarious video vestibular-ocular reflex in chickens)

Feb. 23 Chapter 6: Mirrors in animals

+ Wagner et al. article + Macropinna microstoma video

Steve, Asako
Mar. 1 Chapter 7: Apposition compound eyes Robert
Mar. 8

Note: 4:00

How Eyes Evolved - special topics

(public lecture at 12:00 in the Redwood Center)

Ivan Schwab
Mar. 15 'Chick eyes'

+ Wallman & Winawer article

Chris Wildsoet
Mar. 22 A theory of slit pupils Marty Banks
Mar. 29 [Spring recess]
Apr. 5 Binocular vision in birds

+ Martin article + Snyder & Miller article

Apr. 12 Chapter 8: Superposition eyes

+ Yack article

Apr. 19 Chapter 9: Movements of the eyes

+ Gilchrist et al. article + Schilstra & van Hateren article

Apr. 26 Evolution of visual systems

Shimizu & Bowers article + Hanlon article + Kaas article

Dillon, Lucas
May 3 Dog vision

Miller & Murphy article + Guo et al. article