Aren’t eyes just great? It’s amazing to see how evolution has solved a single problem in such a myriad of ways. Actually, to be more accurate, it’s amazing to see that evolution has molded such diverse and intricate machinery from perhaps the same starting point.
Now that we are sequencing more and more genomes, and deciphering the precise DNA sequence of Pax6 in all of those diverse creatures, we are able to map out how that gene has changed over time. Like a game of molecular telephone, DNA sequences (usually) get more and more scrambled as they spread into new species. Follow the molecular breadcrumbs back far enough, and you can find out where you came from.
And for all those oodles of eyes, all gorgeous, intricate and exquisite, Pax6 might hold the key to seeing where vision began.
To make the work, I borrowed a human skeleton from the university and collected anatomical textbooks. I also managed to track down a mortuary gurney for displaying the work–a mortuary gave me a gurney after a renovation…they were looking to get rid of it since “people are were getting too fat for the gurney.” I also worked in an old hospital turned history museum. I also went to open house day at a local funeral…they gave me a decorative pen. During my graduate studies, I was granted open access to the gross anatomy lab, though I was long finished making LAB/skeleton at this point. I was given access to draw, look around…. It is always funny how specimens are collected and cared for.