Keen looks into, and through, a wide range of animal eyes.
Duprat opens his large-format gallery of vividly rendered animal faces, life size or (much) larger, with a fold-out leaf on which a surrealistic outdoor scene that is clear in the middle distance but a bit blurry in back- and foreground reproduces a typical human field of vision. On subsequent pages viewers can lift flaps to see how a chimp and a dog, an eagle, a frog, an earthworm, a bee, and 14 other creatures would see that scene’s colors, objects, and edges. He shows what a cat would see by day and at night, varies the generally binocular view in a startling way by pointing a chameleon’s eyes in two different directions, and suggests what the 360-degree perspective of a woodcock might look like. Along the way, in lucid specifics he explains how rods and cones gather information and brains process it, points out anatomical differences in each animal’s ocular structure, and describes how each animal’s distinctive combination of perceptual capabilities help it find or avoid becoming food. But even readers disinclined to care much about “ommatidia” or the difference between “dichromat” and “trichromat” retinas will be riveted by the experience of lifting flaps and literally (with the given proviso that we must imagine what birds and other animals who see into the ultraviolet perceive) seeing through new eyes.
Eye-widening indeed—in design as well as topic. (index, source list) (Informational novelty. 7-10)