Hidden Design in a Bird’s Eye

Hidden Design in a Bird’s Eye

Most people know that birds have excellent vision. Eagles can spot a mouse from high overhead. How can they have such sharp vision? Science has revealed the hidden design in a bird’s eye.

The secret of a bird’s eyes was detected first, not in an eagle, but in the eye of a chicken. Color cones are cells in the retina located in the back of the eye. The cones capture the image that the lens focuses on the retina. Human eyes have cones of three different colors: red, blue, and green. Examining the retinas of chickens’ eyes, scientists found that they have five different colors of cones. But it isn’t the number of different color cones that is the most amazing feature.

Much more interesting is the arrangement of the cones. The cones for each color are different sizes. Imagine taking many circles in five different sizes and colors and arranging them on a surface, trying to fit the maximum number of circles into the area. If they were all the same size, you might put them into a grid, but since the circles are in five different sizes, packing the maximum number into the area becomes much more difficult. In packing cone cells onto a retina, more cones will give a higher resolution (sharper) image.

The arrangement of cones in the chicken retina seemed to be haphazard until scientists studied them more closely. What they found was something they call “hyperuniformity.” It’s a mathematically elegant concept that appears to be disordered but is actually optimized with a hidden order. You might call it “disordered hyperuniformity.” It’s the hidden design in a bird’s eye.

What appears disordered is the best possible arrangement to evenly distribute the maximum number of unevenly-sized cones over the retinal surface. Scientists are applying this to many other areas. Hyperuniformity could improve cameras and scanning equipment. It could also improve such diverse processes as mixing concrete, making glass, or any application where you need to distribute solid particles evenly.

How did the cells in the chicken’s eyes get arranged so perfectly? Was the hidden design in a bird’s eye an accident, or is this another example of the work of an intelligent Designer?

— Roland Earnst © 2021

You can read more about this and see illustrations HERE.