[Taxacom] human eyes & ectoparasites

Derek Sikes dssikes at alaska.edu
Wed Jan 10 11:22:08 CST 2018


I was just reading Roger Knutson's 'Furtive Fauna' in which was an
interesting hypothesis I hadn't come across before and wonder if anyone
knows more about it.

Our ability to see small things close up (such as text) resulted from
generations of ectoparasite grooming. Had our distant ape ancestors not had
to deal with ectoparasites our eyes might not be very good at near-vision
(with obvious consequences for the origin of written language and rise of

Knutson stated it factually, but the book has no in-text citations and it's
not clear where he got the idea.

I don't know much about the near-vision ability of vertebrates to know how
likely this hypothesis is. Do non-grooming mammals have poor near-vision?

I'm always looking for ways to explain to entomology students how the world
might be different if arthropods hadn't dominated it, and this might be
another example.

Interested to hear other's thoughts on this.



Derek S. Sikes, Curator of Insects
Associate Professor of Entomology
University of Alaska Museum
1962 Yukon Drive
Fairbanks, AK   99775-6960

dssikes at alaska.edu

phone: 907-474-6278
FAX: 907-474-5469

University of Alaska Museum  -  search 395,696 digitized arthropod records

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