We had a fun Saturday at HiveBio! Led by Anna McCann, an experienced biologist and clinical research assistant, participants in the class got the opportunity to dissect a cow’s eyeball. Beginning with an introduction to the basic anatomy of mammalian eyes, Anna walked us through what to look for in our investigation of the eye and engaged in a discussion on optical adaptations and evolution. Students were especially interested in finding the tapetum licidum – an iridescent layer of the inner eye present in most mammals but not primates (including humans). This layer allows greater night vision and causes the appearance of glowing eyes at night (think “deer in headlights”).
In the lab we began our dissection by removing all the extra fatty tissue and musculature that surrounds the eye. Next, we proceeded to cut open the eye behind the lens, revealing the gooey vitreous humor and allowing us a direct look at the structures of the eye. Inside we saw the retinal layer collect at the optic nerve, the lens, which is responsible for nearsighted focusing, and the nacre-colored tapedum lucidum. Everyone in the group had a great time drawing connections from the anatomy lesson to the dissection!