Go on, I dare you to say Beetlejuice three times – but before you cower behind the sofa, you might want to peel back your eyes.
It turns out that the humble diving beetle has the ability to grow bifocals all by themselves.
The complexity of this appears to be mind boggling in its own right, not to mention eye-popping! It’s astounded many a boffin across several labs already and according to the men in white coats, a study into the eye development of a diving beetle has found its eye parts change significantly as a result of moulted larvae.
Appearing as a bush tucker trial dish on in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, they are also known as sunburst beetles. Usually predatory in their nature, they are also called water tigers or for any Latin speakers, Thermonectus marmoratus.
The larvae use not one but two sets of eyes, one on each side of their temple and are very close to human eyes in terms of their functionality.
The majority of eyes grow at a slow rate, but the larvae eyes of these beetles grow at a far greater pace. Research found this astonishing, especially at the developmental stage and before adulthood kicked in.
It appears their eye tube grows so quick that most of the important changes take place in less than sixty minutes! This all transpires after melting has happened. So what does this mean in non-boffin speak?
As the eyes sign up precisely and so rapidly, the beetle’s larvae are unable to see for a temporary period of time. This is the case when they moult and consequently, all the other elements of the eye have a race in order to ensure the eye is formed perfectly.
However, they need their eyes to hunt and apparently this cannot be done quickly enough. In addition to this the larvae’s eyes contain a well kept secret – dedicated bifocals.
It means that every eye belonging to the larvae has two retinas. These are positioned behind each other, whilst the lens gives out a protection onto both of them and so the larvae has the opportunity to see images up close and personal, not to mention from far away at the same moment.
Forget your x-ray vision and invisibility cloaks, this is a real eye opener! Furthermore, after thorough studies by a host of scientists, they have discovered it takes less time than a flight to Miami for their lens to become fully functioning again.
Eight hours of rebuilding is all it takes, which is discarded with the larvae’s former exoskeleton. After just a few hours of the larvae moulting, the lens was capturing sharper images in the midst of reconstruction.
As far as hunting is concerned, results showed a greater level of food success with the larvae just three days after they had moulted. This meant their vision had completely come back, but there is still more to find out -including other factors on how quickly the beetle’s eye can restore itself from osmosis to minor changes in the water.
Until then, double vision has never felt so good for these little critters!