Animals with the best vision in the world

Posted on Sep 28, 2006 in Mind and senses

© law_keven – flickr

Sharpest eyesight – Birds of prey

The eyesight of birds such as eagles, hawks and buzzards is 3-4 times sharper than ours. Eagles can spot rabbits from several miles away while hawks and buzzards often scan the earth from a height of 10-15,000 feet looking for tasty rodents! And when they spot one, these birds can dive at over 100mph and still keep their target in complete focus.



© Floridapfe – flickr

Best bird night vision – Owls

Despite their smaller size, owls have eyes almost as big as ours and their huge pupils capture lots of light. In fact, an owl could probably spot a mouse on a football pitch lit by a single candle. Secondly, like other birds, their brains can capture an ‘at a glance’ picture that a human eye would have to scan back and forth to understand. However because their forward-facing eyes are so big, they can’t move them. Which is why, like eagles, they can swivel their heads 270 degrees - allowing them a wide field of vision.


© Andro –

Best underwater vision – Sharks

Never play hide and seek with a shark because you’ll lose. They can detect a glow that is ten times dimmer than anything we are capable of seeing. But just in case that wasn’t good enough, sharks have special cells in their brains that detect electrical fields. These not only help them to navigate like a compass but allow them to detect the weak electrical fields given off by the merest twitch of a muscle. Meaning even a distant fish hiding deep underneath the sand will be found and eaten. Gulp!


© Mike Johnston – flickr

Best thermal vision – Snakes

Temperature-sensitive organs located between the eyes and nostrils of pythons, boas and pit vipers allow these snakes to sense the body heat of their prey. There is one located on each side of the snakes’ head, so the animals can perceive depth and strike with deadly accuracy even in complete darkness.


© law_keven – flickr

Best mammal night vision – Cats

Cats have awesome night vision. This is because their pupils widen until they are large circles letting far more light into their eyes - nearly doubling their ability to see (and hunt) in darkness. Which is very bad news if you’re a mouse.  Apart from super powered vision, cats have another animal super power which is less well known. The power of regeneration and it’s all to do with their purr…


© Opo Terser – flickr

Best motion detectors – insects

Whereas we only have one lens in each of our eyes, an insect can have hundreds. Eyes likes these are known as compound eyes. And instead of seeing one clear image , each eye of the insect sees a little bit of the overall picture. While our eyesight is far superior to most insects, compound eyes are incredibly good for detecting movement. With complete 360 vision, the merest twitch will be picked up by your common house fly.


© ‘R’ eyes – flickr

Best all-round view – Grazing mammals

It pays grazing mammals, such as horses, gazelles and zebras, to remain vigilant at all times. Because if they don’t a predator will have a free meal ticket. When grazing with their heads down, if these animals had forward facing eyes like us, they would have a large blind spot which could cost them their life.  However eyes that face sideways give them an almost all-round view. And by feeding in herds and taking it in turns to look up, it makes it much harder for a predator to launch a surprise attack.


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