Three eyes instead of two.

I am trying to visualize a flying species with three eyes instead of two. My guess is that it would improve altitude perception as well as depth. Does anyone know of research of theoretical functionality of three eyes?

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9 Responses to Three eyes instead of two.

  1. Hugh Davis says:

    Forty years ago the xenobiology department at MIT was playing with this (back when Asminov ran it).

  2. Walt says:

    Two eyes generally give stereoscopic vision, which seems sufficient for the tangible environment. I’ve only heard of third eyes in relation to the vision/perception of extra dimensionalities. Usually, as with some beliefs on this planet, such is used for ‘seeing’ into the minds/souls of others. If one believes is such, a third eye could view overlapping dimensions to the world as we know it. Usually associated with the pineal gland. Dunno if this helps any….

    Thanks for sharing your oftimes interesting and entertaining blog!

  3. Lee H. says:

    I know it isn’t exactly what you asked but many flying insects have compound eyes and spiders have multiple eyes but don’t fly(thank whatever god you may believe in). Bats have eyes as well as very accurate echo location.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      So the follow-up would be: would a flying species be better off with echo location plus visual plus thermal, so two pairs of dissimilar eyes (zoomed in visual, wide field thermal) plus sensitive ears? Echo location isn’t passive, so would be subject to detection by others who can hear in that range…

  4. John Davies says:

    Oleg, read Night Walk by Bob Shaw. I first read this when it was first published around 1970. I think it is pretty dated but still entertaining and very original. You can find it on Amazon.

    John Davies Spokane WA

  5. Matt D says:

    fish have eyes on the sides, so they can see predators. But a bird can’t be shaped like a fish, because it needs to use wings to generate lift. So a cylindrical body with eyes arranged in a triangle could improve vision for predator avoidance, especially if, e.g. gravity is low enough that attacks could come from below.

  6. Rick T says:

    Where would the 3rd eye be? If the three eyes are at the corners of an equilateral triangle then the creature could have stereoscopic vision in almost 100% of the circular field of view. If two are forward (hunter’s vision) having one facing rear to detect attacks from the rear would be an advantage…

    Note that most birds are prey animals and do have eyes on the sides of their heads. IIRC the pigeon has two binocular fields: directly in front, and directly to the rear of the head, each eye has about 190 degree field of view.

  7. Lyle says:

    Hmm, yeah; a pit viper with compound eyes (thermal through ultraviolet) plus echo location would be…unlikely but formidable. If you want to go all scifi, there’s the fact that everywhere there are radio frequency EM waves which might be exploited in detecting prey. It is said that sharks and dolphins employ something like that. Detecting the electrical fields generated by prey is one thing, but the other possibility is detecting the disturbances in the ambient radio frequency background caused by the movements of prey.

  8. Mike OTDP says:

    Two eyes are enough for depth perception. A third would be useful for seeing behind the animal, to prevent ambush.

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