San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature Connection

This exhibition closed December 31, 2002

Overview of the Exhibition

Animal Eyes is an award-winning, hands-on traveling exhibition that explores our on-going quest to understand what animals see. By comparing what we know about human vision, we can learn more about animal vision.


September 28 - December 31, 2002

Does your dog see color? How many eyes does a spider have? Where are a sea star's eyes? Five exhibit areas explore different facets of animal vision. Different Kinds of Eyes focuses on various types of animal eyes and how they work, while Different Places on Different Faces discusses the positioning of animals' eyes and how this affects what they see. Night Eyes looks at how animals see at night, and Seeing In Color explores how color is processed in the eye and discusses which animals can see color. Finally, 3 Eyes, 5 Eyes, 8 Eyes, More looks at animals with multiple eyes.

Animal Eyes exhibit

Animal Eyes was organized by the Museum of Ophthalmology, San Francisco, part of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, with generous support from the National Science Foundation and LensCrafters. Animal Eyes won first place in the 1999 American Association of Museums' Eleventh Annual Exhibition Competition.

Animal Eyes features five exhibit areas:

Different Kinds of Eyes
This section compares the many different kinds of eyes in the animal kingdom. Some eyes only sense the difference between light and dark, and other eyes, like our own, make an image. Some animals’ eyes create images with mirrors, while others use lenses. This section features the eyes of the human, earthworm, sea star, nautilus, scallop, fly, and eagle.

Interactive at Animal Eyes exhibit

Different Places On Different Faces
In this area, visitors can learn where animals’ eyes are located and how their eye positions help them survive. Hands-on activities teach visitors about their own binocular vision and peripheral vision. Through interactive components and photographs, visitors can discover some animals with eyes in unique positions on their heads or bodies. In addition to human eyes, this area explores the eyes of the American Woodcock, monkey, ground squirrel, lion, zebra, duck, rabbit, chameleon, stalk-eyed fly, hammerhead shark, snail, whale, and crab.

Night Eyes
Models and hands-on components show how nocturnal animals need certain “equipment” to see well at night—big eyes, big pupils, many rods in their retinas and/or a reflective tapetum. This section features the eyes of the human, raccoon, Great Horned Owl, tarsier, moth, and hatchet fish.

Seeing In Color
This section emphasizes scientific research into animal color vision. Visitors can find out what scientists know about color vision and how they know it. Visitors can learn about cones, the special light-sensitive cells in the human retina, and also compare their color vision with the color vision of other animals. This area features the eyes of the human, dog, bee, and mantis shrimp.

Animal Eyes exhibit

3 Eyes, 5 Eyes, 8 Eyes, More
This section highlights animals with more than two eyes. Visitors can learn not only the number, but the location of these animals’ eyes. Featured animals include: spider, tuatara, lizard, sea star, horseshoe crab, grasshopper, and scallop.

Animal Eyes | Exhibits