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'World's oldest eye' found in 530-million-year-old fossil.

AN "exceptional" 530-million-year-old fossil contains what could be the oldest eye ever discovered, according to researchers.

The remains of the extinct sea creature include an early form of the eye seen in many of today's animals, including crabs, bees and dragonflies.

Scientists made the find while examining the well-preserved fossil of a hard-shelled species called a trilobite.

These ancestors of spiders and crabs lived in coastal waters during the Palaeozoic era, between 541-251 million years ago.

They found the ancient creature had a primitive form of compound eye - an optical organ that consists of arrays of tiny visual cells, called ommatidia, similar to those of present-day bees.

The team, which included a researcher from the University of Edinburgh, say their findings suggest compound eyes have changed little over 500 million years. The right eye of the fossil - which was unearthed in Estonia - was partly worn away, giving researchers a clear view inside the organ.

This revealed details of the eye's structure and function. The species had poor vision compared with many animals today but it could identify predators and obstacles.


The fossil unearthed in Estonia

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Dec 8, 2017
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