The brittlestar’s skeleton is one big eye.
A relative of the starfish and sea urchin has turned its skeleton into an all-seeing eye. Near-perfect microscopic lenses in brittlestars’ bones are more sophisticated than anything humans can produce, say engineers keen to copy the trick.
Tiny crystal balls do the trick. Did we mention that the brittlestar has no brain?
But then there’s this:
The crystals’ growth must be self-organized – emerging from the right chemical environment rather than being engineered by detailed top-down control. “It’s starting with a soup of chemicals and pulling out this wonderful microstructure,” says Sambles, who fantasizes about emulating the process “in a bucket in a corner of the lab”.
Better check that bucket frequently then.
This is a brittlestar. Not said to be “brittlestar Ophiocoma wendtii,” the one studied, but something like it, to look at.