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Ancient Origins of the Human Eye Discovered

Scientists at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Kewalo Marine Laboratory in Honolulu have discovered light-detecting cells in the embryo of a brachiopod, a marine invertebrate, whose organization may be similar to the primitive precursors of the human eye.

"This research provides a new model for understanding the very earliest stages of eye evolution, how simple cells on the surface of an animal could become able to respond to light, and how these simple cells could be connected to eventually form something as complex as the human eye," said Dr. Yale Passamaneck, lead author of the reserch team.

Researchers have long hypothesized that the complex human eye evolved from a very simple patch of cells on the surface of a primitive animal, slowly increasing in complexity by adding features such as pigmentation, a lens, and neuronal connections to the brain. To date, however, few examples similar to the earliest stages of this process have been identified.

Yale Passamaneck and Mark Martindale of Kewalo Marine Laboratory, along with colleagues in Germany and Norway, identified two distinct groups of light-detecting cells in the brachiopod embryo that may provide such examples. Both groups of cells contain light-sensitive cells called ciliary photoreceptors, the same type of cells that are responsible for light detection in the human eye.

The researchers found that the eyes of the fully developed brachiopod larva are composed of only two cells—with one of the cells containing a lens to collect light, while the other containing pigments to block light coming from behind the eye. Both cells have connections to a group of neurons called the ganglion, allowing signals produced in response to light to be sent to other parts of the embryo.

Together, this configuration allows the embryo to detect the direction of light and respond to it by changing its swimming behavior. This configuration is the first example in the large group of animals called protostomes (which also includes insects and mollusks), shown to use the ciliary photoreceptors found in human eyes.

Surprisingly, the researchers also found light-sensitive cells very early in the development of the brachiopod, before any neurons had formed, based on the expression of the light-sensitive gene ciliary opsin, which converts light into a chemical signal within the cell. This light-sensitive structure is unprecedented in terms of its morphological simplicity, being composed of only a single layer of cells on the surface of the embryo, and having no neuronal connections to other cells.

These cells likely act individually, autonomously responding to light by changing the pattern of beating of cilia on their surface. This simple organization of non-neuronal light sensitive cells is remarkably similar to what has long been hypothesized as the earliest stage in the evolution of complex eyes.

Provided by University of Hawaii at Manoa


So, someone was saying something about irreducible complexity? Thanks, I'm gonna translate this text for my website.

Yes, this should have Ray Comfort & Co. wriggling!

I love reading this blog. It really amazes me how a simple eye compose of tiny cells can give us the ability to see the wonderful creations of God. This is a simple presentation that God exist and how he carefully made us into a perfect creation.

I wish I was dead.

Ok, wow now thats some pretty cool stuff dude.

I think u will like this homer evolution vid!

@Brad Fallon
perfect? people need glasses, they get grossly overweight when there is to much food, they have useless wisdom teeth, a useless appendix, tonsils, we are prone to having food go down the wrong hole, we snore.
other creatures have better 'designed' lungs(birds) or much better eye 'designs' (predatory birds), better noses(dogs). we have least efficient mode of locomotion out of all creatures.

there is no logical reason why god wouldn't give his 'ultimate creation' those much better 'designs'. but there is every reason why evolution didn't give them to us.

Great find/article.

@ fire:

Good point. But your arrogance is sublime. You neglect that we forgone the best lungs, the best nose, the best eyes for the most important body part,the brain. Had our brain not become what it is today, then we would have the best lungs, nose, eyes, etc. There is a reason why we, humans, are the deadliest predator in this planet. Scientific discoveries are nothing but our naive way of explaining our world, one we can barely understand. It's like we are putting together a puzzle nobody knows who made in the first place. Can anyone in the scientific/evolutionary world explain why the "big bang" started to begin with and from what? Hence the reason why some people believe in God, a creator/catalyst. Nevertheless, science does work. But you should think wider, maybe read some mythology, it gives another fresh view on these things.

@fellow scientist (ha)
i think you mean me.
and "You neglect that we forgone the best lungs, the best nose, the best eyes for the most important body part,the brain." is a false statement.

what we gave up for brains was strong jaw muscles (to allow the brain to expand) and large canines/aggression(the 2 go hand in hand) to allow the group to function better allowing for more food intake(because both males and females could forage, and less wasted on in-group aggression.
the others have nothing to do with the brain, there is no reason why a god couldn't allow us to see infra-red en ultraviolet just like birds or have 4 times the number of receptors in our eyes like birds of pray, or have more sensitive noses in the same amount of space.
however the fact birds have lived above ground for millions of years and mammals have lived as purely night time or underground creatures for millions of years and have only quit recently become daytime creatures make much more sense.

and which mythology should I start with? I know quit a lot of them, and there are many more. they are entertaining and give a gimps into the attempts of man to explain the world before the scientific process was developed.
but they do not give any factual knowledge, they all contradict each other. besides historically and culturally they are not relevant today.

Your prior commitments blind you.

"We construct a light-guiding model of the retina outside the fovea, in which an array of glial (Muller) cells permeates the depth of retina down to the photoreceptors. The retina is revealed as an optimal structure designed for improving the sharpness of images."

Check out

Darwinian Evolution will not survive the science of the 21st century. The house of cards is coming down from all directions.

PS are you seriously holding on to your list of vestigial organs? I guess you haven't been keeping up. Just because you or others can't conceive a function doesn't mean that there isn't one.

sigh... why is it that after pretty much every article I read about biological understanding and evolution there is someone trying to shove god down my throat? I just want to read the article and enjoy the interesting research. I understand you have your beliefs and you are entitled to them however a god, an omnipotent god, is just too irreducibly complex that the probability of it even existing is next to null.

"Darwinian Evolution will not survive the science of the 21st century." - what? Despite creationalist efforts there has been no proof provided that has stood up to analysis. Please just believe what you want, read the article comment that you like it, and don't try to create bias crap.

Addressing "The Countess": Sounds like a character in a myth!

'Besides historically and culturally they are not relevant today." When I read such statements it boggles my mind that smart men like you say such things.

Good old Albert once said, "Imagination is more important than Knowlege". I'll take Albert over you any day.

Oh, and then was Jung a fool?

Myths that spin tales of the lure of temptations, the corruption that happens with having power, myths that speak of the importance of believing in one's self as well as being good stewards of the environment are not relevant today? Being kind to one another? Yes many people historically have ignored these maessages but many of us have.

Even the myths that have done some "harm" to us I believe, as in those that say we are separate from our planet, (Genesis) and that all was created for our sustenance alone? What about the myths that speak of not having control of one's thoughts leads to folly? No, myths are very important and relevant and there are many more people that read them than you think. I am not just speaking of Creationists. Although some myths do have facts in them, to take them literally most of the time is insanity, because they WILL contradict themselves if you take them at the surface. Myths hold truths that are just as important as scientific ones. The fact we don't embrace them is a big reason why despite all our intellectual powers, we are FUCKING DESTROYING EVERYTHING! "Knowledge IS power", but knowledge without wisdom..."

They are NOT just attempts to explain our world when nothing else was known, they are that but much more. They are the INNER more than the OUTER.

"I know quit a lot of them, and there are many more." Nice egotistical statement, but notice the typo, instead of saying "quite" you said quit. If you know "many more", then that means you were very interested in them once. Either that or you were bullshitting to make yourself seem well-rounded learned, or gloat. If you read so much and took that little from them and think that is all they are you're a well read idiot. Or, perhaps deep down you respect the ancient stories more than you say.

Both science and myth compliment one another and modern science compliments many of the views Native Americans have as well Buddhists, all conveyed in their "myths". Other religions too. (I loathe organize religion, most of them.)

Again, You quit reading them, perhaps because you became arrogant, and basked in the other polarity of scientific reason (which I love just as much). Your imagination (where all knowledge (science) and creativity (myth) resides), wilted from all the solar heat of words and "facts" that you focus on alone, all are in perpetual change.

We know nothing percentage-wise, but we feel many truths. That's what mythology is all about.

John Paul Marchand
Artist and Writer of fiction.

'simple cells on the surface of an animal COULD become able to respond to light, and how these simple cells COULD be connected to eventually form something as complex as the human eye'

Too many 'coulds' in just this one sentence to make this science.

Besides how does discovering a few 'simple cells...etc' mean this is the precursor to the eye? It just means these creatures had 'simple cells ....etc'.

By the way these are not creationist statments and questions - but common sense ones that evolutionary 'scientists' have yet to answer.

Amazing stuff. Now how about explaining how the eye knows to focus?

@Andy form the land of despair

"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." - Albert Einstein
You should read "Climbing Mount Improbable" by Richard Dawkins.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." -Albert Einstein
Imagination is one thing. Gullibility is another. I seriously doubt that you've grasped what Einstein meant by "imagination".

"We wish to pursue the truth no matter where it leads. But to find the truth, we need imagination and skepticism both. We will not be afraid to speculate, but we will be careful to distinguish speculation from fact. - Carl Sagan

@Brad Fallon
@Fellow scientist

It is clear to every modern man that organs like heart (a pump), eye (sensor), digestive system (extraction plant), kidney (a filter) or liver (multi-functional plant) cannot operate for so long without programming and software. Whether these internal organs / complex systems like dna and genetics operate in animal bodies or in the human bodies, we can only conclude that the first primitive cells didn't have both the will and the capacity to evolve such a complex software and programming. While we understand that human-made pumps, sensors, extraction plants, filters and software have to be designed, constructed and operated by its creator, we insist on big-bang / darwinian dogma in regard to living beings and force children in school to learn and repeat that what is impossible. So, millions of years ago a very enterprising algae had a desire (certainly not need) and decided to venture out of sea and now we have such a fantastic range of shapes / colours / tastes of fruit and vegetables? Good luck, believers in self-evolution fairy tales. Hard to imagine Unborn, Unlimited, Almighty GOD that is not willing to intervene the way we would in this temporary playground? Not your fault. No limited, created being can ever do that. Yet, love and longing of the humble ones can cross every difference and distance in order to feel GOD's Presence!

@nino dangelo

Trying to compare Science to Imagination is like comparing apples to oranges.

Next time you want open heart surgery, ignore the Doctor with years of scientific education and go ask a story teller with a great imagination. See which one gets better results.

Wonderful article; shame some people had to bring their belief in fairy tales into this though. There is no god and never has been a god. Stop believing in fairy tales, please and put your primitive belief culture and creation myths to bed...they were fine when you were gullible children but this is the 21st century and it is about time we grew out of these childish tales of a god.

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