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Submitted on
May 3, 2013
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Hey , all you folks who are interested in animal skulls...  I was looking at my skull collection and noticed: Every  prey animal I have: deer, antelope, sheep, goat, horse, camel  (but not rodents or marsupials) have enclosed eye sockets, including primates. Every carnivore skull I have, that I looked at  ( can't find the badger and skunk) has open eye sockets, except the meerkat and the ferret. The only other mongoose I have ( a binterong) and the other "weasels" I have ( related to ferrets) have open eye sockets too.

So I wonder why the difference? What about their lifestyle would require closed eye sockets?
Maybe because meerkats are prey animals as well as predators, they have some of the same characteristics as other prey animals??
"Open eye sockets" means that the place the eyeball sits in the skull is not completely surrounded by bone.
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:iconnotched-stag:
notched-stag Featured By Owner May 16, 2013  Student Artisan Crafter
Yeah, as far as I know it comes with needing to move the eyes differently-- birds have an unnattached ... I think it's called an 'occipital ring' that has to do with how they see, and what their eyes need to do. I rarely see my cat move her eyes- if she wants to look, she tilts her head accordingly, whereas I've seen wild birds look me up and down with their little eyeball. We have totally enclosed eyes and we as humans have pretty flexible eyes, so I imagine it's something like that.
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:iconstarhorse:
Starhorse Featured By Owner May 12, 2013  Professional General Artist
I'm glad I saved this journal to come back and read the comments :>
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:iconreptangle:
Reptangle Featured By Owner May 12, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Yes, I learned some ideas about what I wanted to know!
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:iconcozmicdreamer:
CozmicDreamer Featured By Owner May 6, 2013
*scratches head*.....Hmmm that is interesting.
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:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner May 4, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
No idea... better protection for the eyes, since prey species often spar via headbutting? ;p
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:iconbuckskinmare:
buckskinmare Featured By Owner May 4, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Having pulled apart enough dead animals in my career as a wildlife biologist, I can tell you the similarity between all those, and a postulation as to why the ungulates have closed eye sockets.

I don't know if you've noticed, but all those grazing herbivores rotate their eyes when they put their heads down to graze. The eyeballs literally rotate in the sockets so that the eye is level with the ground. Watch a sheep or horse grazing and you will see this phenomena. To do such a thing, there needs to be a bone support, otherwise the eye will pop out of the socket.

Carnivores by contrast, while they can move their eyes in the socket, they can't rotate them like the herbivores can. Thus the necessity for bone in that area is minimized. As it is, live animals do have an extremely tough cartilaginous tissue band bridging that area, which passes muster since they don't need to rotate their eyeballs.

Why do primates and other simians have this feature when we don't rotate eyes? Well. We don't rotate eyes... but we do move our eyes a great deal more, and have a finer musculature around the eyeball itself.

Just my two cents.
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:iconreptangle:
Reptangle Featured By Owner May 4, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
I didn't know that sheep rotate their eyes when they graze!
-but I have observed that the goats,sheep and the bull I have had would rotate their eyes when they got turned over or laid on their sides. ( for vet care/ hoof trims)They'd get this crazy wild expression, because the whites of the eyes would show. The vet said that that was an automatic reaction to having their heads tilted.
How interesting!
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:icondonnabarr:
DonnaBarr Featured By Owner May 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
More stuff to throw in the discussion: chewing. The eye sockets are close to where chewing or shearing muscles attach. Carnivores just have to shear and gulp. You know, we're probably all right. Or... an ancestral form got on that road, and it stayed that way. Like external testicles in mammals - goofy, not actually dangerous, and turned into display, so stayed that way. Mosaic evolution can go down some very silly roads (As for sperm requiring cooler temperatures - result rather than cause?).
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:iconreptangle:
Reptangle Featured By Owner May 4, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Yeah, the external testicles always seemed like a strange adaption. Have you ever watched a ram run? Yike. What a place to stick 'em. Pigs, cats, and llamas at least have them stuck on in a better spot.
They say it is to keep them cool,because of the sperm production thing- but most birds have a higher body temp than mammals and they have an internal testis! -So what's with that?
Elephants don't have them externally do they? Oy, now I've got to google testicles. Hope my antivirus software is up to snuff...
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:icondonnabarr:
DonnaBarr Featured By Owner May 6, 2013  Professional General Artist
Yeah, I think it's an evolutionary "mistake" that wasn't lethal. It almost makes one believe in godlets - and female godlets at that. :D
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