Book review: ‘The Eye: A Natural History’ by Simon Ings

How animals see and how they perceive.

The EyeCharles Darwin admitted that the suggestion that an organ as complex as the eye could have evolved purely through Natural Selection seemed 'absurd in the highest possible degree' (but he then went on to stress that he had no doubt that it had). I had assumed that this book was going to be all about how the eye, contrary to what so-called Intelligent Design proponents argue, has evolved many times over from very simple beginnings to organs of amazing complexity. Simon Ings does indeed cover this subject, but most of the book is about perception, rather than the mechanics of the eye.

Ings has done a lot of research in putting together this informative and useful book, and explains complex issues in plain English. He also introduces us to a number of scientists who have worked on the eye and perception over the years, some of whom seem rather eccentic. My favourite of these was French anatomist Jean Mery, who observed that a cat's eyes shine much more brightly if you hold the cat underwater.

Nice one, Jean!

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Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks
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