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The 32 Retina Ocean Amphipod!

Posted on January 16, 2015 by in The OFI Blog

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This image is a head-on view of “P. gracilis” showing the two rows of orange pigmented retinas and the size of the head in comparison to the body. 

Jamie Baldwin Fergus, Peter Buck Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, is the lead author of a detailed study on the Paraphronima gracilis (P. gracilis) a marine crustacean who lives 120 to 500 meters off the coast of California. While this may seem like any old marine crustacean the P. gracilis has a very unique characteristic which until now, has never been seen before. The P. gracilis has 32 different retinas in his eyes.

While the P. gracilis has not been studied as thoroughly as other hyperiid amphipods, Baldwin Fergus, along with other scientists, believe the P. gracilis  unusual eyes allow it to adapt to the changing light conditions at the ocean depth that they live in. The eyes of the P. gracilis makes up 45 percent of its body and their retinas are split up, making it one of the oddest hyperiid amphipods the scientists have ever studied.

Read more on this bizarre creature on Smithsonian Science.