The saying "to look into someone's eyes reflects the mirror to the soul", but the eyes in the animal world has a much more in-depth meaning. The eyes of a predator are face forwarded in the skull with this allowing a binocular vision to project depth, thus making it a possible skill to hunt and pursue the prey. The most familiar animals that are excellent hunters and have this characteristics will be cats and owls. Humans and the monkey also have face forward eyes, with the monkey using their eye sight to swing and leap from tree to tree and man's overall eye sight is beneficial in numerous skills. Man nor monkey is not considered a malicious predator, however as man has evolved the skill of hunting has become a hobby rather than an need of survival.
The animal with eyes located on the side of the head would be classified as prey. The eyes positioned on the side have horizontal pupils, giving greater peripheral vision for the animal to see predators from the side and behind. This is used for protecting animals that graze with their head down, such as the horse, cow or sheep. Not only does the position of the eye determines if it's a hunter or hunted, but also how tall it walks. The smaller animals such as the cat, snake and fox are considered "ambush predators", they will have eyes with a vertical slit and these animals will hunt near to the ground. The vertical slit narrows in sunlight making it possible for the predator to hunt in the sun's glare but also gives the animal the ability to hunt at night. The "active foragers" that walk tall such as man as well as lions, coyotes and tigers have the round eye circular pupils and will only hunt prey during the day and typically limit hunting to food or protection.
An interesting aspect of the human eye is called "cooperative eye hypothesis" meaning man's gaze is used for communicating. The human has the only eye in the animal kingdom that has the white sclera, colored iris and black pupil. Man will move the eye to see and address the communicator while animals will move only the head, such as a dog will move their head on command toward an object. Could the difference in the human eye versus the animal mean man exhibits emotion as well as thought process through the eyes. I have seen different type of eyes during emotional stages of happy, sad, angry, mischievous, and concern. Parents can ask a child "did you do it" and immediately the head will drop because looking directly at the parent will give away the misbehavior. The same during a conversation with a person who has difficulty in communicating emotions or an untruthful event, most individuals will tend to look away hoping not to divulge the emotion with the eyes. Communicating with the eyes is very useful, in time of battle recognizing friend or foe may have contributed to "don't shoot until you see the whites of the eye" which means to be cautious and not react too soon.
The Joe Ford Nature Center has eyes for nature and the future. As the new year progresses we are hopeful the public will eye the park as one of their nature destinations. When the weather breaks all eyes will be on completing the update for the trails as well as creating programs for the season. Please keep an eye on our web page and facebook for all updates and we hope to see you soon.
Friday 9am - 12pm