, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 439-447
Date: 25 Sep 2008

Charting Evolution’s Trajectory: Using Molluscan Eye Diversity to Understand Parallel and Convergent Evolution


For over 100 years, molluscan eyes have been used as an example of convergent evolution and, more recently, as a textbook example of stepwise evolution of a complex lens eye via natural selection. Yet, little is known about the underlying mechanisms that create the eye and generate different morphologies. Assessing molluscan eye diversity and understanding how this diversity came about will be important to developing meaningful interpretations of evolutionary processes. This paper provides an introduction to the myriad of eye types found in molluscs, focusing on some of the more unusual structures. We discuss how molluscan eyes can be applied to the study of evolution by examining patterns of convergent and parallel evolution and provide several examples, including the putative convergence of the camera-type eyes of cephalopods and vertebrates.