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News Link • Biology, Botany and Zoology

Eye size determined by maximum running speed in mammals

•, University of Texas at Austin
 Species with larger eyes usually have higher visual acuity, says Chris Kirk, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology. But what are the that cause some mammals to develop larger eyes than others?

"If you can think of mammals that are fast like a or horse, you can almost guarantee they've got really big eyes," says Kirk. "This gives them better vision to avoid colliding with obstacles in their environment when they're moving very quickly."

Kirk and physical anthropology doctoral student Amber Heard-Booth are the first to apply Leuckart's Law — a hypothesis that was developed specifically for birds and speed of flight — to 50 species of mammals. The paper is forthcoming in the journal Anatomical Record. Heard-Booth presented the findings at the 2011 American Association of Meeting, where she was awarded the Mildred Trotter Prize for exceptional graduate research in evolutionary morphology.

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