They say the best way to understand someone is to walk a mile in their shoes, and it turns out that same logic roughly applies to the study of animal vision. Sure, you can't exactly insert yourself into the mind of another living being — let alone an individual from another species — but you can learn quite a bit by studying how and why animals use their vision.
In the February 2016 issue of National Geographic, science writer Ed Yong attempts to do just that in a fascinating article that explores the evolution of eye anatomy and examines the role that a creature's environment plays in the development of eye function and appearance.
Yong's article is accompanied by incredible close-up images by photographer David Liittschwager that illustrate the diverse biology of various animals eyes. In the case of the Cuban rock iguana (above), "the eye [...] offers a window into a fundamental truth of evolution: Form follows necessity. Four types of cone cells in this diurnal creature’s retina provide excellent daytime color vision. A simpler third eye on top of the lizard’s head senses light and helps regulate body temperature."
In the video below, biologist Tom Cronin explores the diversity of how eyes and vision manifest across different animal species, from humans to mantis shrimp.
Continue below for a look at more of Liittschwager's gorgeous eye macros.