Wednesday 8 March 2017

The “buena vista” hypothesis (2017)

Massive increase in visual range preceded the origin of terrestrial vertebrates
Malcolm A. MacIver, Lars Schmitz, Ugurcan Mugan, Todd D. Murphey, and Curtis D. Mobley

doi: 10.1073/pnas.1615563114 PNAS March 7, 2017 


Starting 385 million years ago, certain fish slowly evolved into legged animals living on land. We show that eyes tripled in size and shifted from the sides to the top of the head long before fish modified their fins into limbs for land. Before permanent life on land, these animals probably hunted like crocodiles, looking at prey from just above the water line, where the vastly higher transparency of air enabled long-distance vision and selected for larger eyes. The “buena vista” hypothesis that our study forwards is that seeing opportunities far away provided an informational zip line to the bounty of invertebrate prey on land, aiding selection for limbs—first for brief forays onto land and eventually, for life there. 

Paper HERE.
Commentary HERE.
Image from HERE.