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Saturday, 14 December 2013

Night attack

If animals really want to catch us at our weakest, they need only attack us at night. While we’d be running around stubbing our toes and tripping over carpets, they could navigate the darkness with razor-sharp precision and unleash their fury at their convenience.
Just consider snakes. Many of them, such as pit vipers and some boa constrictors, have the equivalent of our infrared goggles built right into their bodies. These organs, which are on both sides of their heads, detect heat and produce a heat map image which the reptiles use to zone in on their prey.
And while the snakes are giving us their worst, the felines could easily join in on the wrath by relying on the special light sensitive cells in the back of their retinas to show them the way. This shiny layer of cells, the tapetum lucidum, reflects light back into the retina, effectively giving cats a second chance to absorb every photon. The reflective nature of these cells is also the reason why cat eyes seem to glow at night, and a pack of glowing cat eyes is enough to freak out any human. It’s true, they can’t see in total darkness, but because their eyes are so efficient, they need only a small sliver of moonlight or even the tiny standby light on your TV to unleash an assault.

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