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Zoology (Jena). 2008;111(1):62-75. Epub 2007 Nov 28.

Comparative analysis of the size and shape of the lizard eye.

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  • 1Biomedical Sciences Program, College of Health Sciences, Midwestern University, 19555 N 59th Avenue, Glendale, AZ 85308, USA. <>


Lizards occupy both scotopic (light-limited) and photopic (light-rich) environments, thereby making this clade ideal for analyses of eye morphology adaptations. This study examines how in lizards the morphology of the eye varies according to activity in these different light environments. Measurements were collected on corneal diameters and axial lengths of the eye for 239 specimens of 116 lizard species (including Sphenodon) that include both species with scotopic and photopic visual adaptations. I show that the light level available to a lizard for vision has a significant effect on eye shape and size. Scotopic lizards have eye shapes that are optimized for visual sensitivity, with larger corneal diameters relative to axial lengths. However, photopic lizards do not exhibit absolutely larger axial lengths than do scotopic lizards, and the groups have the same absolute axial lengths of the eye. Results also indicate that the light level the lizard functions under is a more significant influence on eye shape, as defined by the relationship between corneal diameter and axial length of the eye, than is phylogeny.

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