• Strategy

Eyes specialized for different types of vision: starlings


European Starling / Alan D. Wils.. / LicenseCC-by-sa - Attribution Share Alike

The eyes of starlings are specialized for different types of vision, color or movement, due to different retinal cone types.

"In 2000, a team of researchers led by biologist Dr. Nathan Hart of Queensland University in Australia revealed that the retinal cellular composition of a starling's two eyes differs.

"In its left eye, the retina has more single cones - photosensitive cells that respond to color. Conversely, in the retina of its right eye, double cones - which detect movement - predominate. The two eyes seem to fulfill different functions, which may well explain why starlings (as well as many other birds) tend to look at objects with either one eye or the other. So if a starling looks at an object with its left eye, it may be scrutinizing its coloration, whereas if it looks with its right eye, it may be watching for movement." (Shuker 2001:12)
About the inspiring organism
European Starling
Sturnus vulgaris Linnaeus, 1758
Common name: Common Starling

Habitat(s): Artificial - Aquatic, Artificial - Terrestrial, Forest, Grassland, Marine Intertidal, Shrubland
Learn more at EOL.org
Some organism data provided by: ITIS: The Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Threat Categories LONG_LC IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Dual-purpose binoculars, security cameras with specialized functions (one responds to heat, one to vibration, e.g.) to minimize energy use and materials.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Optics, security

Comparative Visual Ecology
Nathan Hart
University of Queensland
Shuker, KPN. 2001. The Hidden Powers of Animals: Uncovering the Secrets of Nature. London: Marshall Editions Ltd. 240 p.
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Hart, NS; Partridge, JC; Cuthill, IC. 1998. Visual pigments, oil droplets and cone photoreceptor distribution in the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris). Journal of Experimental Biology. 201(9): 1433-1446.
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