The Loh Down On Science

Ol' Blue Eyes

Researchers find that the lowly scallop sees far more than you'd like to believe.

Scallops--delicious sauteed, but did you know they have EYES?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh, with the Loh Down on Science

saying yes, bay scallops do. Up to a hundred of them, each with one lens and two retinas.

Despite this complexity, scallop eyes were thought to only detect big things, like changes in light and predators.

But no.

Duke University researchers placed wild scallops in a lab aquarium. They then simulated floating food particles on a flat-screen computer monitor near the tank.

In response to the tiny virtual plankton. . . the scallops just sat there.

But when the monitor showed LARGER krill, the scallops opened their traps faster than a yuppie at a sushi bar.

In other words, the critters could not only see detail, but also monitor their surroundings.

To see if it's safe to come out, scallops extend their eyes. The eyes are held by tentacles, through barely opened shells. Peeking out lets them decide when their prey choices warrant opening up for a bite. That's risky because it exposes their fragile bodies to danger

Not to mention a lemon and white wine sauce. Science makes me hungry!


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