Scientists Stick Eyes on Tadpoles' Rears... And They Work

Scientists Stick Eyes on Tadpoles' Rears... And They Work

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Tadpoles prove to be even more awesome than we already thought.

Wouldn't it be great to be a scientist? You could wake up in the morning, grab your coffee, head to the lab, and proceed to transplant eyeballs onto random animals just for kicks. Ok, so that's not exactly what researchers at Tufts University are up to, but their most recent line of work does involve installing eyeballs where they don't belong.

Working with sightless tadpoles, scientists at the university began experimenting with grafting eyeballs onto the animals' tails. This might sound pointless, but the findings are quite startling: Despite not being integrated into the optic nerve of the tadpoles, the eyes began to function, allowing the tiny creatures to see.

To prove that the tadpoles had been graced with the gift of sight, an experiment was conducted. The animals were placed in dishes with two different colored LEDs, both red and blue. In the areas of the dish with red lighting, a small electrical shock would zap the tadpoles, but areas lighted with the blue LED were safe zones. After a brief training period, the tadpoles avoided the red, danger areas over 70% of the time.

But before you go planning some strange, 1,000-eyed elephant, it's important to note that amphibians like the tadpoles in the study are known for their ability to accept developmental stimuli. While it's possible that the work could continue with other species, we're probably many years away from being able to grow eyes in the back of our heads.

Source: Journal of Experimental Biology via Geekosystem

Image credit: Benimoto

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Well they say hindsight is 20/20 :P

But this does mean we're close to being able to make freakish frog warriors to ironically invade the French with?

we're probably many years away from being able to grow eyes in the back of our heads.

I thought we've had that technology for years...
Just look at teachers...

DVS BSTrD:
Well they say hindsight is 20/20 :P

but looking back it's still a bit fuzzy...

OT: Awesome! Now I can get on that thousand eyed giant axolotl...

My mind is full of fuck.

are they actually seeing or are they detecting subtle differences in the different leds like electrical fields, heat, etc

if it is sight then bring on the many eyed mutants !

So Walter Bishop is on their staff then? :D

OT: Huh, didn't think you could do something like that but science just loves to shoot nature the bird it seems. Little confused as to how this could help us but it is rather amazing that it worked at all.

I'm curious if the optics were actually working or if their experimental setup was warmer on the red side than the blue side, allowing the tadpoles to rely on thermal sensitivity (or perhaps some water change instigated by the electrical current) instead of visual spectrum cues. Still, they're probably right, they're the scientists, not me.

BobisOnlyBob:
I'm curious if the optics were actually working or if their experimental setup was warmer on the red side than the blue side, allowing the tadpoles to rely on thermal sensitivity (or perhaps some water change instigated by the electrical current) instead of visual spectrum cues. Still, they're probably right, they're the scientists, not me.

You are correct. What's missing here is the control group data, which should exist and which would eliminate the factors you listed.

DVS BSTrD:
Well they say hindsight is 20/20 :P

You pun gave me hepatitis B.

Well, I think this requires an incredibly loud yell of
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This is why I love the human race.

Oh, that thing can't see? LET'S STICK EYES ON ITS ASS AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

What happens when they turn into frogs?

GoddyofAus:
My mind is full of fuck.

I know,right? I read this headline and thought "Is this a real thing? Are we getting Punked?"

How drunk does a scientist have to be, to one day say to himself " you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to take eyes, and I'm giong to shove them in a tadpole's ass". His cagoule goes "Why would you do that?" and the first goes "fuck if I know? but it'll be hilarious"

I saw this movie one time..... Where scientists screwed around with amphibian biology...... What was the result again?

Oh Yeah!!! DINOPOCALYPSE!!!! At least on that one island.

And that's how the Simic Combine came to be.

Couldn't it also simply be that they're able to sense light, but not necessarily see?

A couple of people have already said it, but does the experiment actually prove that it's the eyesight that was helping them avoid the harmful area, or reaction to some other stimuli? I mean, I'm sure that me being a common thicko means a scientist would have considered that problem already, but it'd be nice to know for sure.

Still, this is pretty cool. Not seeing the practical applications of it, but either way, good on them.

Another success in the advancement of SCIENCE!

*Random Explosion*

So real life #VandalEyes? I approve.

i think extra arms would be a better start then we can worry about extra eyes

Mimsofthedawg:
Couldn't it also simply be that they're able to sense light, but not necessarily see?

One light being red and the other blue, colours require sight to distinguish. So while they might not have vision focus and the ability to see clear edges and detail they can at least determine what colour the blob is. In turn this means the eye is sending signals to the brain, if the signals are only very basic.

MikeWehner:
Scientists Stick Eyes on Tadpoles' Rears... And They Work

image

The animals were placed in dishes with two different colored LEDs, both red and blue. In the areas of the dish with red lighting, a small electrical shock would zap the tadpoles, but areas lighted with the blue LED were safe zones. After a brief training period, the tadpoles avoided the red, danger areas over 70% of the time.

I assume they actually moved the lights after the 'training period'. Such would be required to actually proof the observation of the lights, otherwise they're merely proving that the tadpoles are aware of their position and can remember enough not to traverses in places that they've been zapped. Also worth nothing that while 70% sounds decent, 20% better than what you'd get flipping a coin is hardly compelling.

In any case, interesting stuff, just hope they're not just half assing things and going with the results they'd like to see.

So how many years until I can have a stunning conversation with my plant?

wombat_of_war:
snip

SonOfMethuselah:
snip

BobisOnlyBob:
snip

Roander:
snip

Jadak:
snip

Any of you still in Uni? Go and look it up. Then come back and tell us.

doi: 10.1242/​jeb.074963 March 15, 2013 J Exp Biol 216, 1031-1040.

Ectopic eyes outside the head in Xenopus tadpoles provide sensory data for light-mediated learning

Douglas J. Blackiston and
Michael Levin*

There's the reference, title and authors. Chop, chop.

EDIT: There's actually a better explanation of the experiment in the editorial. No full methodology though, so get going. The world awaits you findings.

http://jeb.biologists.org/content/216/6/ii.full.pdf+html

Rex Dark:

we're probably many years away from being able to grow eyes in the back of our heads.

I thought we've had that technology for years...
Just look at teachers...

no, you got it wrong, teachers are psychic. You havent watched The Dead Zone have you?

I wonder what kind of applica- ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD.

Lends a whole new meaning to "giving him the stink eye"

Just because you can does not mean you should... but meh whatever if i had millions and a science departemnt i'd probally fund crazy shit like this :)

Next week we give jellyfish bones.

 

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