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Science. 1999 Nov 5;286(5442):1178-80.

Chunk versus point sampling: visual imaging in a small insect.

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Neurobiology and Behavior, Mudd Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


The eyes of strepsipteran insects are very unusual among living insects. In their anatomical organization they may form a modern counterpart to the structural plan proposed for the eyes of some trilobites. Externally they differ from the usual "insect plan" by presenting far fewer but much larger lenses. Beneath each lens is its own independent retina. Anatomical and optical measurements indicate that each of these units is image-forming, so that the visual field is subdivided into and represented by "chunks," unlike the conventional insect compound eye that decomposes the visual image in a pointwise manner. This results in profound changes in the neural centers for vision and implies major evolutionary changes.

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