Not every animal sees the world the same way. In fact, there is an incredible amount of diversity when it comes to eyesight in the animal kingdom.
As human beings, we tend to assume that we’re superior to other animals by most metrics. However, when it comes to vision, this isn’t necessarily the case. There are both domesticated and wild animals with vision capabilities that may surprise you!
In this article, we explore the different types of animals out there to narrow down what species quite possibly has the best eyes in the animal kingdom.
First off, to determine what animal has the best eyesight, it’s important first to understand why eyesight varies so much from species to species.
The range of colors we can see, for example, is dependent on the combination of color-sensitive pigments in our eyes and our brain’s ability to process them. Our vision is also determined in part by evolution. For some nocturnal animals, for example, their vision is more sensitive at night.
So, what animal has the best eyesight? How do humans compare with our domesticated animal friends, like cats, dogs, and farm animals?
Here are just a few of the many animals with complex visual systems.
How Do Other Wild Animals Stack Up?
Birds of Prey
There are some metrics by which the eyesight of predatory birds is superior to that of humans. Birds like hawks, eagles, and falcons have four photoreceptors, which is one more than human beings.
They share our red, green, and blue receptors, but they also have the ability to see ultraviolet (UV) light. Their sensitivity to UV light allows them to see color better than we do, allowing them to spot things from long distances. This gives them an advantage when hunting or foraging.
Also, as far as daytime vision, eagles, hawks, and falcons reign supreme!
Eyesight can be measured by several different metrics. Chameleons may have lesser eyesight in some ways, but their unique ability to swivel their eyes in different directions at once sets them apart.
Along with their 360-degree vision, they are also able to transition between monocular and binocular vision.
Big cats, such as tigers, leopards, and lions, are all well-known to have incredibly proficient night vision. They may not be able to swivel their eyes 360 degrees, but their ability to see in the dark serves them perfectly well when hunting for prey.
Prosimians, like lemurs, lorises, and tarsiers, are distant relatives of humans and apes. If you look at a picture of one of these creatures, you’ll notice their eyes right away. They’re among the largest relative to their body size in the animal kingdom.
They have great depth perception and impressive night vision, which is aided by the layer of tapetum lucidum in their eyes (with tarsiers being the exception).
The winner – Ever Heard Of The Mantis Shrimp? They Have the Best Eyesight in the Animal Kingdom
The creature with the best-known vision capabilities on the planet is the mantis shrimp! These carnivorous and colorful marine crustaceans live in burrows in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They’re known for both their ability to inflict painful wounds and their impressive visual system.
Unlike humans, who only have three photoreceptors, mantis shrimps have 16. With these receptors and their compound eyes, mantis shrimps can see a wide range of colors, UV, visible light, polarized light, and circularly polarized light. They can also move each of their eyes independently for different purposes.
What About Domesticated Animals?
Now that we have established which wild animal has the best eyesight, who has the best vision among pets and farm animals?
Goats have the best eyesight among domesticated animals. What really makes their eyes unique is the shape of their pupils. Most farm animals have round pupils, like humans, which are ideal for daytime hunting.
Goats, however, have horizontal rectangular-shaped pupils. This gives them an almost 360-degree panoramic visual field.
Comparing Cats, Dogs, and Humans
It is hard to compete with a mantis shrimp, but there are plenty of other animals with incredible eyesight.
Of course, when people think of domesticated animals, it’s not usually goats that come to mind. So, how do our favorite furry friends compare to humans and each other?
Can Cats and Dogs See Color?
It’s a common misconception that dogs and cats can’t see any colors at all. However, neither is completely color-blind.
Though they cannot see as many colors as humans, scientists believe that cats and dogs can discern blue and yellow, giving them dichromatic vision. This is because they have blue and green cones.
Who Has Better Night Vision?
Humans can perceive more colors, but both dogs and cats have us beat when it comes to night vision. Their pupils and corneas are larger, which lets in more light to their retinas (which the retina processes). They also have more information processing, light-sensitive cells (rods) than humans do. Though both have superior night vision to humans, cats easily have better night vision than dogs.
How About Vision Sharpness?
For dogs and cats, their night vision comes with a loss in vision sharpness. This means they can be near-sighted and far-sighted, just like humans. That being said, their vision precision is comparably worse than humans. Humans, on average, have 20/20 vision, but dogs are believed to have 20/75 vision and cats 20/150 vision.
So what animal has the best eyesight – Cats or dogs?
In essence, both dogs and cats have good eyesight when compared to the rest of the animal kingdom.
They both have their own strengths and weaknesses, making it difficult to determine which species should come out on top.
While cats have better night vision and a wider field of vision, dogs tend to have sharper eyesight. When it comes to dogs and cats, the answer depends entirely on which metric you use.
Of course, our pets’ vision can be affected by the same eye problems that affect humans. This includes cataracts, cornea injuries, glaucoma, and more.
Though dogs and cats obviously cannot be given glasses, a veterinarian can treat cornea injuries and make suggestions to improve your pet’s vision or slow its deterioration (medication, diet changes, etc.).
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