|MadSci Network: Neuroscience|
Hi Kumaran! In a sense, this experiment has been done on deep-sea/cave-dwelling species. Creatures who live in perpetually dark surroundings tend to have poor or non- existent eyesight. They may have vestigial eye structures, but the light- detecting function is impaired. (They find their food using tactile senses, or by generating their own bioluminescence). There's even a type of fish (blind cave fish) whose eyes fall out as they age. Why is this so? Eyes consume a tremendous amount of cellular resources -- proteins are constantly synthesized and metabolized, and energy-storing molecules are rapidly turned over. If eyes are not actively detecting light, then the maintenance of the eye structures is a waste of cellular resources. It is conceivable that some of these changes could take place over the course of a human life, if a person were deposited at the bottom of the ocean or deep in a cave. The cellular machinery that controls production of eye proteins could gradually decrease output, particularly if the person's nutritional state was compromised. I'd probably be pretty hungry at the bottom of the ocean or deep in a cave ... cheers, Amanda Kahn firstname.lastname@example.org references: There's a lot on the web about blind cave fish (they're popular among aquarium enthusiasts). For information about deep sea creatures, try doing a google search for "deep ocean" and eyes, to get articles such as: http://www.mbayaq.org/efc/efc_se/se_exp_faq.asp
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