Do Nasal Strips Help Horses Run Faster?
Kay-africa, Wikimedia Commons
Animals and insects see the world in unique ways. From fish, to dogs, to birds to shrimp, super-eyesight allows them to thrive in places others can't.
Dung beetles, for example, have internal compasses that are sensitive to the sun, Marie Dacke of Lund University and her colleagues have determined. In a paper published in the latest Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, she and her team explain that solar cues and skylight help guide where the beetles roll their coveted balls of poop.Video: 5 Incredible Insect Superpowers
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Siberian huskies evolved colorful, almond-shaped eyes to see in low light, desolate northern regions. A quirk of genetics is that an individual dog may have two differently colored eyes. A single eye may also feature two colors. It's known as a "parti" or "split" eye.Photos: Ugliest Dog Contenders
Chameleons can rotate and focus their eyes separately to look at two different objects at the same time, according to the San Diego Zoo. This gives chameleons a full 360-degree view around their body.Photos: Chameleon Colors Act Like a Mood Ring
Ants have vision "superpowers," interactive media designers and artists Chris Woebken and Kenichi Okada believe. Using their ant apparatus, humans can see as ants do by placing microscope antennas on their hands (ants have these on their heads) that transmit a 50-fold magnified view of wherever the person's hand is resting.33 Bizarre New Ant Species Discovered
Imagine if you spent most of the day looking up from below. That is what escolar, a large and mysterious deep-sea fish, do, according to a new study by Eric Warrant of the University of Lund and colleagues. Escolar use this technique to "sit and wait" for prey, hoping something tasty will swim over them.
Tomasz Sienicki, Wikimedia Commons
Shrimps have some of the most complex visual systems in the animal kingdom. Justin Marshall of the University of Queensland and his team found that some shrimp stare down prey before attacking with a movement that is so swift that it actually boils water in front of the shrimp. (The other temperate water surrounding the shrimp prevents it from cooking itself to death!)
Stewart Butterfield, Flickr
Most animals, including humans, have round pupils, but the eyes of goats (toads, octopi and a few others too) tend to be horizontal and rectangular with rounded corners. This broadens the horizon that they see, enabling them to better spot predators.
Pen Waggener, Flickr
Bird eyes, such as those of the eagle seen here, feature oil droplets located in the front, Doekele Stavenga of the University of Groningen and colleagues have discovered. The droplets serve as "microlenses" that help to filter and direct light.On the Hunt for Bald Eagles
The eyes of certain animals, such as raccoons and cats, glow in the dark. Their eyes have a light-reflecting surface, known as the tapetum lucidum, which makes this possible. Depending on the animal, the glow takes on certain colors. Cats tend to have eyes that glow green. Miniature schnauzer eyes will sometimes glow turquoise, according to Colorado State University ophthalmologist Cynthia Powell.
Alexander Vasenin, Wikimedia Commons
Cuttlefish, a type of mollusk, are the transformer visionaries of the animal kingdom. They reshape their entire eyes to adjust to what they see. Humans and many other species, in contrast, usually just reshape their eye lenses to get a better look at something.
Giant squid have the largest eyes in the world, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. At up to 10 inches in diameter, the human head-sized eyes help giant squid to see in deep water. It's believed that they can detect a moving sperm whale from 394 feet away.Giant Squid Photos
Fernando Mafra, Fotopedia
We create a mental map of our surroundings in our brain. As Michael Land of the University of Sussex explains, "To interact with objects in the world we need to know where they are, whether they are in our field of view or outside it. Objects in memory have to move in the brain as we move through the world, otherwise they would be not be in the right place."
NFL players wear them to help them breathe, and so will racehorse California Chrome on June 7, when he attempts to win the Triple Crown.
But there was some doubt as to whether the horse would be allowed to wear a nasal strip at the Belmont Stakes, where a first-place finish would make him the 12th horse in history to win the Triple Crown.
Could a breathing strip on a horse really help it win? California Chrome’s supporters seem to say both yes and no.
Just as humans wear them to help them breathe during sports or at night, the adhesive strips are designed to improve air flow into a horse’s nostrils — giving horses a boost, said Art Sherman, the horse’s trainer. Sherman suggested the horse might not run without it.
“I think it opens up his air passage and gives him that little extra oomph that he needs, especially going a mile and a half,” Sherman said. “Any time you can have a good air passage, that means a lot for these thoroughbreds.”
Yet the New York Racing Association stewards voted today to let the horse wear it on the basis that it would not be an aid:
“Equine nasal strips do not enhance equine performance nor do they pose a risk to equine health or safety and as such do not need to be regulated,” New York State Gaming Commission equine medical director Scott Palmer wrote. “While there is research to indicate that equine nasal strips decrease airway resistance in horses and may decrease the amount of bleeding associated with EIPH [exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage] to some degree, I am unfamiliar with any research indicating that equine nasal strips enable a horse to run faster with nasal strips than without them. In other words, there is no evidence they have a performance enhancing effect.”
California Chrome has worn a nasal strip for each of his last six races, and has won every time. Past Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners have also worn them. Horse-racing rules vary by state, and although Belmont Park officials had said in the past that nasal strips would not be allowed, its rulebook doesn’t specifically mention them, according to ESPN.
Photo: Victor Espinoza rides atop California Chrome after winning the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 17, 2014 in Baltimore. Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images