Human beings are quite distinct from other animals with regard to their anatomy. Yes, we are the only animals on this planet with the ability to walk upright! It might not be the fastest way to move around, but it enabled us to develop a complex brain and enhance our consciousness.
Apart from our posture and brainpower, human beings also have a very intricate eye structure. Unlike most animals, we tend to have very white eyes while the majority have dark eyes. But why is this the case?
And no, it’s not because we have superpowers…;)
This white section of our eyes, commonly known as the sclera, is a sturdy protective covering that enables our eyes to have a round, steady shape. This particular section extends all the way back into our eyesockets where it is connected to nerves and tissues.
Our Eyes Were Designed for Communal Survival
In this wonderful and weird world, there are all sorts of spectacular beasts and creatures that roam the earth. Each of these creatures has adapted certain traits that enable them to thrive in their natural habitat. It’s called evolution, and it’s driving force of the different genetic variations we marvel at today!
So why do we have distinctly different sclera sizes? For most animals that live in harmony with nature, darker eye pupils were vital for survival. Most animals preferred foraging for food at night to avoid being caught by predators. This meant that they had to have larger eye pupils to absorb light and see in dimly-lit environments.
In turn, predators hunting these prey had to evolve larger eye pupils to see clearly in dimly lit environments when hunting. Else, how would they get their daily bread?
As for humans, we developed smaller pupils for two main reasons. Firstly, our developed brains meant we could use tools to hunt. We crafted arrows, spears, and all sorts of long-range weapons to injure our prey before feeding on it. It was more logical for us to have 3D vision for enhanced aim and to make out our prey clearly.
Another plausible reason is that from the get-go, humans have always been social animals. As such, we evolved larger sclera to be able to read the faces of our companions. We could be able to tell what another person was looking at, or what mood they were in without them communicating it to us.
This might have helped us stay quiet but still communicate when hunting in groups. Or to be warned of impending danger without having to make a sound. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that our large sclera has played a monumental role in catapulting the human species to the top of the food chain!