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Bigger eyes in the North

Two British anthropologists claim that the lack of light in the Arctic has caused people to evolve bigger eyes and brain.

According to the two British researchers from the University of Oxford, the size of the brain and eyes increases in populations living at higher latitudes.  This characteristic allows people to see better in regions that receive less light compared with people living nearer the equator.  The closer people live to the poles, the more their brains and eyes apparently increase in size.  “Someone living on the Arctic Circle would have an eyeball that is 20% larger than someone living on the equator,” says Robin Dunbar, co-author of the study that appeared in Biology Letters.

The researchers measured the brains of 55 individuals from 12 different populations, including England, Australia, China, Kenya, Micronesia and Scandinavia, having lived 200 years ago.  Their findings show that the smaller brains, those from Micronesians, weighed approximately 1,150 g, while the larger brains, those from Scandinavians, weighed 1,423 g.  The eye sockets were larger in the skulls from the North.  This difference permits smaller proportions of images to fall upon each photoreceptor field so that more details can be distinguished.

Source: Opt!k Magazine November 2011