"The results show that the starfish nervous system must be able to process visual information, which points to a clear underestimation of the capacity found in the circular and somewhat dispersed central nervous system of echinoderms," Garm said in a press release.
Eyes have photoreceptors, which are cells that sense or receive light. The photoreceptors in starfish eyes are primitive, but have evolved a bit over many years.
Starfish eyes are compound, so they are structured somewhat like those of crabs, spiders and certain insects.
Studying the starfish "can help clarify what the first visual tasks were that drove this important step in eye evolution," Garm said, "namely navigation towards the preferred habitat using large stationary objects (here the reef)."
Our earliest ancestors were likely no different, with their eyes evolving to find the best homes and food.
Credit: Anders Garm, University of Copenhagen