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Home » Santa Clarita News » Environment » SCV Outdoor Report » Santa Clarita Outdoor Report: Shifty Eyes, Beady Eyes, Bat An Eye
Santa Clarita Outdoor Report: Shifty Eyes, Beady Eyes, Bat An Eye

Santa Clarita Outdoor Report: Shifty Eyes, Beady Eyes, Bat An Eye

Shifty eyes, beady eyes, bat an eye – we have many ways to describe how our eyes express our emotions and character.  But we come at this from the perspective of an animal with forward-facing eyes.  What if we were creatures with lateral-facing eyes, eyes at the sides of our heads?  What would change?  What would stay the same?


One thing that would change is our role in the food chain.  In the words of this Museum of Osteology website:  “Eyes in the front, the animal hunts. Eyes on the side, the animal hides.”  Forward placement allows for depth perception.  (How far do I have to leap to land on that tasty-looking critter?)  Lateral placement allows for a greater field of vision. (I think I see something moving over there, something with sharp looking teeth!)

Anatomically, some things would stay the same.  It doesn’t matter whether you are a creature with forward or lateral facing eyes.  Your eye movement is controlled by six muscles:  two for horizontal movement and four for vertical movement.  This UC Davis website provides an explanation of how they work. 

However, some things would change. Without delving too deeply in the the anatomical details, scientists recognize that “the muscles that move lateral eyes differ from the muscles of animals that move eyes viewing forward.”

But what if you were an animal whose eye placement stayed the same but whose vision was sometimes lateral and sometimes forward?  Pond turtles, for example, have eyes on the side of their heads.  When they stick their necks out, their lateral eyes allow for a greater field of vision.  But when they pull their heads back inside the shell, their peripheral vision is blocked, allowing only forward vision.


Last month, scientists from the Saint Louis University published a report about pond turtle vision with an unexpected surprise: “a turtle pulls its eyes in different directions when its head is out of its shell compared to when its head is retracted deep within its shell.”  When retracted, its “direction of pull is more like that of a front-eyed animal than that of animals with eyes on the side of their heads.”  It does this by using its superior oblique muscle (one of the six standard ocular muscles) to direct it eyes forward.  So, at least in this case, anatomy is not destiny.

Unless, of course, you’re a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle”.  Your goal is to quickly and accurately pounce on that Halloween Candy, hence the forward-facing eyes.  Happy Halloween!



Upcoming Outdoor Events: 

Trail Maintenance Schedule.  Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails.  Contact Steve at for time and place.

Wednesday mornings, October 2, 9, 16, 23 & 30.
Saturday mornings, October 12 & 26.

2014 Placerita Canyon Wild Flower Calendar.  Looking for a unique and local gift?  For $10, the Docents and Volunteers at Placerita Canyon Nature Center are offering a calendar filled with original photos of local wild flowers.  Best of all, your purchase will help support their fine work at the PlaceritaCanyonNatureCenter. They are available at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center Gift Shop.

New trail maps available.  If you’d like to explore a bit on your own, the City of Santa Clarita has a website with trail maps of our local open spaces.

There’s also a new website for bicycle riders.  

Ask Dr. Norm:  Do you have questions about the flora, fauna, animals, rocks, etc. in our Santa Clarita Valley?  Here’s a place for you to ask your questions.  Dr. Norman Herr, Ph.D., is a professor of science and computer education at California State University, Northridge.

Tell Us About Your Hike:  Here’s a new website where you can post pictures, provide feedback and make suggestions about the City of Santa Clarita’s trails and open spaces.


You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on “The SCV Outdoor Report”, brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

For the complete MRCA hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, click here or go to    

Or check out our Facebook page  – L.A. Mountains.



Or check out our Facebook page  – L.A. Mountains.

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Source: Santa Clarita News

Santa Clarita Outdoor Report: Shifty Eyes, Beady Eyes, Bat An Eye

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