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Rapid Evolution? The Eyes Have It

A fossil compound eye, around 515 million years old, from the Emu Bay Shale.

A fossil compound eye, around 515 million years old, from the Emu Bay Shale on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. The individual lenses would have numbered over 3000, with the largest in the centre forming a light-sensitive “bright zone”. Image credit: John Paterson

By Michael Lee & John Paterson

The discovery of exquisite fossils on Kangaroo Island reveal that complex eyes evolved very rapidly during evolution’s Big Bang, the Cambrian explosion, half a billion years ago.

Michael Lee is senior research scientist at the South Australian Museum and University of Adelaide. John Paterson is senior lecturer at the University of New England in Armidale, NSW.

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