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Resistant to the theory
Resistant to the prevailing theory, Sumner-Rooney and co-authors discovered that there have been a large number of light-sensitive cells within the arms from the brittle stars, and they were actually baked into your skin across the human body.
"I was very surprised to locate these photoreceptors such huge figures and all around the creatures," states Sumner-Rooney. "They do cover every inch, bottom and top, and they are greatly dotted around in the surface among what we should formerly thought were lenses, not underneath them. They actually wouldn't get any focussed light."
Even with no optical the aid of the lenses, behavioural experiments demonstrate the very first time the brittle stars can identify shadows from the distance.
"It was really exciting," adds Sumner-Rooney. "We have got the very first evidence these creatures might be utilizing their huge light-sensing network to 'see' distant patches of shade that may offer shelter from predators."
When the creatures do form a picture, it's apt to be very coarse, but around the crowded tropical reefs, disturbed brittle stars never need to look too much to create a dash for that nearest cover.
Even though the team is the first one to discover the light sensors responsible, it remains a mysterious the way the brittle stars would use all the details they gather to determine using their skins.
"It's amazing that we have had this lens-based hypothesis for many decades, yet it appears the actual mechanism behind Ophiocoma wendtii 's incredible conduct is even stranger than we thought," states Sumner-Rooney.
Brittle stars may 'see' using their skin