How does an animal with no eyes see? Scientists studying a bizarre sea creature called the brittlestar, cousin to the starfish, have pondered that question for decades. Finally they've found the answer: The brittlestar doesn't have eyes — it is an eye!
Until now, scientists thought the spiny, five-armed invertebrate (animal with no backbone) was blind. Although the brittlestar seems to have crystal-clear vision. It flees predators and scouts out places to hide. Scientists assumed its arms were the reason. Wrong!
Last summer, researchers studying a species of brittlestar called Ophiocoma wendtii discovered that the creature forms its skeleton out of smooth-faced crystals that work like a magnifying glass to collect and focus light 10 times as accurate as a manufactured lens!
(Image courtesy of Project Oceanica/NOAA)