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Lizard Eyes

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My wife was playing with our Bearded Dragon by putting a brightly colored image on her phone and waving it in front of the lizard. It stared for a few minutes and then went back to chasing the crickets we had put in his tank.

However, the little game made us curious about the visual abilities of lizards, specifically can they see color.

A quick search online revealed that, as a general rule, lizards can not only see color, many species can see color better than humans can. Some are even capable of seeing colors under dim light. It makes sense that lizards would have excellent eyesight. They depend on it for their survival.

Depending on the species, some lizards do have an eyesight problem. Since their eyes are located on the side of their heads, the field of vision does not overlap close up. This results in limited depth perception. For ground dwelling species, this is not an issue and the trade-off is a substantially larger field of view.

However, depth perception is much more important if you live in a tree.

When it comes to lizard vision, the champion is the chameleon which does live in trees. Not only can they move their eyes around, they can do so independently. This means they can look at a possible threat with one eye and still search around for others. It also means that they have a 360 degree view of their world. In addition, the lens on the chameleon’s eye is negative (concave) while its cornea is positive (convex). This combination provides very precise focusing and the ability to enlarge the image.

© 2018 Gary J. Sibio. All rights reserved.

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Written by Gary J Sibio

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