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Palaeontology

Prehistoric monitor lizard had four eyes

April 3, 2018 | Comment icon 9 comments



The extra eyes made this lizard unlike anything alive today. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 yeowatzup
A new fossil analysis has revealed that one particular species of lizard had extra eyes on the top of its head.
The remarkable discovery, which was made by researchers from Yale University and Germany's Senckenberg Research Institute, concerns a species known as 'Saniwa ensidens' which lived approximately 49 million years ago.

Its fossil remains were unearthed 150 years ago in the Bridger Basin in southwestern Wyoming, however it wasn't until now that its most unusual feature was identified.

"This tells us how easy it is, in terms of evolution, to self-assemble a complex organ under certain circumstances," said Yale paleontologist Bhart-Anjan Bhullar who co-authered the study.
"Eyes are classically thought of as these remarkably complex structures. In fact, the brain is just waiting to make eyes at all times."

The two additional eyes, which are situated on the top of the lizard's head, appear to have formed from the pineal and parapineal organs - photosensory structures that assist with orientation.

The pineal organ in particular is often referred to as a "third eye".

"By discovering a four-eyed lizard, in which both the pineal and parapineal formed an eye on the top of the head, we could show that the lizard third eye really is different from the third eye of other vertebrates," said study lead author Krister Smith.

Source: Fox News | Comments (9)



Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by third_eye 4 years ago
BAck in those days it pays to have eyes in the back of the head ... ~
Comment icon #2 Posted by MysteryMike 4 years ago
We sure this ain't some alien?
Comment icon #3 Posted by Vilasarius 4 years ago
I suppose they could monitor in all directions. Being a monitor lizard that is, no pun intended.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Captain Risky 4 years ago
what no four eyes jokes ?
Comment icon #5 Posted by AustinHinton 4 years ago
Wish they had shown the actual skull or something, as it would be interesting to see exactly where these additional eyes were in relation to the existing holes found in all lizard skulls (which let the jaw muscles expand).†
Comment icon #6 Posted by oldrover 4 years ago
https://news.yale.edu/2018/04/02/four-eyed-lizard-offers-new-view-eyesights-evolution-vertebrates Reconsruction at the link.†
Comment icon #7 Posted by AustinHinton 4 years ago
Thanks! So the eyes sat in tandem at the back of the skull, interesting. Do we know if they were functional beyond basic sensory functions?†
Comment icon #8 Posted by Hankenhunter 4 years ago
The ayes have it? Sorry, got nothing. Hank
Comment icon #9 Posted by oldrover 4 years ago
No idea. I do know that third eyes/pineal glands with some photo receptive function†can be seen in several living reptiles.† https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parietal_eye#/media/File%3AMadagascar_spiny_tailed_iguana_cropped.jpg


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