Hammerhead sharks see 360 degrees

By | November 28, 2009

A new study has shown “that a hammerhead gives sharks outstanding binocular vision and an ability to see through 360 degrees. “

Scalloped hammerhead sharkScalloped hammerhead sharkThe finding is published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. …

The results surprised the researchers.

“I believed hammerheads would not have binocular vision, because their eyes were pointing out on the sides of the head,” admits Dr McComb.

“However, it turns out that the positioning of the eyes was really the key.”

The eyes of hammerhead sharks are tilted slightly forward, she says, allowing the field of vision of each to significantly overlap.

“This study has confirmed that vision may have played a role in the evolution of one of the ocean’s most bizarre inhabitants,” Dr McComb says.

“This has been a scientific question which has persisted since hammerheads were first described over 200 years ago.”

Added benefit

The shape of the hammerhead brings further benefits, the researchers discovered.

By moving their head sideways as they swim, the sharks can see much of what is behind them.

More extraordinary is that the position of the eyes allows the sharks to see through 360 degrees in the vertical plane, meaning the animals can see above and below them at all times.

As well as improving their ability to catch prey, “this may be beneficial to smaller sharks that are potential prey to larger sharks,” says Dr McComb.

via BBC – Earth News – Hammerhead shark mystery solved.

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