Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Eye evolution: post-dinosaur, pre-Noah's Ark

Back in January or so, I was interviewed by researchers at the History Channel over the phone. They were working on a new series on evolution, and one episode was to be about eyes. I guess they had seen our lab's work last year on cnidarian opsins in the news and decided to talk to me about it. Looks like they might mention this and/or research by Suga and Gehring published in Janurary on cnidarian opsins. Here is the blurb from the History Channel website:

They are one of evolution's most useful and prevalent inventions. Ninety five percent of living species are equipped with eyes and they exist in many different forms. Learn how the ancestors of jellyfish may have been the first to evolve light-sensitive cells. Discover how dinosaur's evolved eyes that helped them become successful hunters. Finally, learn how primates evolved unique adaptations to their eyes that allowed them to better exploit their new habitat, and how the ability to see colors helped them find food.

I remember from the interview that they were really probing for flashy stuff. They wanted to know what they would see if they came to film at UCSB. They didn't seem too interested in filming hydra sitting in a dish (although that's one of the things we are doing in the lab this summer). I can see from the abstract that they settled on dinosaurs and primates - the proverbial charismatic megafauna....

I just looked up the schedule, and the eye evolution program will air just after Dinosaur Fight Club, and just before a documentary about a flood 3,000 years ago that they are dubbing Noah's flood! Should be fun!

The date is Tuesday July 29, eye evolution at 10 pm.

I'll try to give an opinion on the Eye Evolution program here after it airs.


Anonymous said...

Ho hum. Another feeble attempt to speculate on eye development by playing which came first, the eye, the optic nerve or the portion of the brain that controls vision. Get real and stop grasping at straws!

Todd Oakley said...

anonymous - I'm not sure what you are implying. Perhaps you are suggesting that since I haven't yet explained the origins of every component of vision, that science cannot explain it.

If so, you are dead wrong.