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Image: Suren Manvelyan

Without them, our world would be dark, finding our way around would be much harder, and we would miss out on an incalculable amount of beauty – beauty like the incredible and natural artistry of an animal’s eye, as depicted in this series of photographs by Suren Manvelyan.

Eyes are an essential part of life for most humans, and, as we will see, they are no less important to our friends in the animal kingdom!

Two small, bright headlights above the water. That’s how a crocodile or a caiman (like the owner of this striking eye) would appear should you encounter one (hopefully not too closely!) at night. The reason for this brilliant gaze is that the reptiles have tiny crystals in their retinas. Sealed under a layer called a tapetum, these sparkly pieces of tissue reflect light and help these predators see after dark. Yet while they might look pretty, it’s probably best not to get too close!


Image: Suren Manvelyan

This animal’s giant staring eyes are one of its most well-known characteristics. It’s the lemur! This particular lemur has black skin around its eyes – a trait found among the ring-tailed (or Lemur catta) species. As well as being big, a lemur’s eyes are incredibly shiny, due to a reflective layer of tissue called the tapetum lucidum. The function of this layer is to help the little primates see at night – which, since they’re nocturnal, is pretty useful.

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Image: Suren Manvelyan

Here’s an eye you don’t want to get into a staring contest with! It belongs to a tiger python, which, like all snakes, is utterly unable to blink. This is because snake eyelids are transparent and permanently closed, forming what is known as an ‘eye cap’. This layer keeps the snake’s eye safe while it goes about its day, slithering through the undergrowth, swimming or chasing its prey. And if the cap does happen to get damaged, the snake needn’t worry too much: soon enough they’ll shed it, along with their skin, and get a new one.

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