Design of Deer Eyes

Design of Deer Eyes

One of the most compelling examples of God’s design in the world around us is the design of eyes. The eyes of every creature on Earth are specially designed to allow the animal to survive. The retinas of our eyes contain three kinds of color cones sensitive to red, blue, and green. When all three cones work together, our brain tells us that what we are seeing is white. However, the design of deer eyes is different.

Very few animals have all three types of cones, and this design allows animals to maintain a balance in the natural world.
A PBS documentary called “Nature” carried a discussion of how predators control deer in the natural world to prevent their population from exceeding the food supply. In North America, wolf packs kept the deer population under control. However, now that wolves have been removed, many of us are plagued with over-populations of deer.

Several years ago in southern Indiana’s Brown County State Park, hunters were allowed to cull the deer population. Some 12-year-old deer weighed only 60 pounds, and vegetation in the park was threatened. When older trees died, the park’s abundant tree population was threatened because deer were eating the young ones.

In other parts of the world, tigers keep deer populations in check. How can a large orange-colored animal ever catch a deer which can easily outrun a tiger? The answer is that a deer’s eye does not have any red-sensitive cones, so the deer does not see the orange color of the tiger. A tiger can get very close without the deer seeing it, so the tiger is wonderfully camouflaged to control the deer population.

We need to be careful not to let “Bambi” demean our appreciation of predators in the natural world. In places where the deer population is out of control, the ecological system can collapse. For example, we have so many deer here in Michigan that those of us with gardens, decorative bushes, and trees have to constantly spray deer repellant to keep our plants from being eaten. God’s design avoided that problem until humans threw it out of balance. The design of deer eyes is part of that balance.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: PBS documentary “Nature” on August 26, 2021.