Basic mechanisms in pinniped vision
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- Hanke, F.D., Hanke, W., Scholtyssek, C. et al. Exp Brain Res (2009) 199: 299. doi:10.1007/s00221-009-1793-6
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Pinnipeds are amphibious mammals. The amphibious lifestyle is challenging for all sensory systems including vision, and specific adaptations of the eyes have evolved in response to the changed requirements concerning vision in two optically very different media, water and air. The present review summarizes the information available on pinniped eyes with an emphasis on harbour seal vision for which most information is available to date. Recent studies in this species have improved the understanding of amphibious vision by reanalysing refraction, by studying corneal topography, and by measuring visual acuity as a function of ambient luminance. The harbour seal eye can be characterized as an eye that balances high resolution, supported by data on ganglion cell density and topography, and sensitivity. Furthermore, it was shown that seals have multifocal lenses, broad visual fields, and distinct eye movement abilities. The mechanisms described here form the basis for future research on visually guided behaviour.