The Eyes Have It [Preview]

Eye gaze is critically important to social primates such as humans. Maybe that is why illusions involving eyes are so compelling

A fascination with eyes is not solely a human trait. Many species of fish, insects and even birds sport false (one could say illusory) eyes on their wings, stalks or even the back of their head. These eye-catching patterns do not necessarily mimic real eyes, but they serve to dissuade, confuse or startle potential predators. Get an eyeful of these animals that sport eyespots (clockwise from upper left): an emperor moth with four false eyes, a northern pygmy owl with “eyes” in the back of its head, a butterfly fish with a fake eye that draws attention away from its head, an insect named the eyed click beetle and a spicebush swallowtail caterpillar.

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