Well, that seems like a mighty hard questions doesn’t it? I mean, how could we humans possibly know how well a dinosaur could see when we don’t have living specimens to observe? Now, that does seem like it could cut the whole study down but there is something we do have from dinosaurs: their bones.
With these bones/fossils we can place just where the eyes were and study off them from there. Sure, it would be a lot nicer and easier to just pick a hadrosaur and see if he will run into the brick wall in front of him, but, we don’t have that option. So, let’s get studying. However, I will be breaking this study up so I can keep your attention throughout the shocking discoveries.
First of all, we have to figure out how today’s animals see and why.
The predator, such as the one on your left, has eyes facing forward. So, you say? Well, when a animal’s eyes are facing forward it usually means that this animal can pick up depth and better distance. In other words, they can see really well.
How does this help them? To answer, you have to see (no pun intended) how the prey sees.
A usual prey animal has the eyes on the side of its face. This, as we discovered in our article about the horse, gives the prey great range with its sight but not very good eyesight. However, a prey animal does not need high-tech equipment for seeing, he just needs his eyes placed in the right area to see the most possible area he can. And, God has given this gift to prey animals.
When two eyes are facing forward on an animal, they now have what we call binocular vision. With two eyes being able to pick up a slightly different view of the same area, the animal’s brain can combine the information and form a picture that uses both of the eyes to perceive better distance and depth.
But, when a prey’s eyes pick up images the two eyes are picking up completely different images so, thus, they cannot combine the pictures and make a good judge of distance or depth.
When you have a cheetah and an impala, for example, about to battle off you have this type of scenario:
The cheetah zeroes in on the impala. The beast is approximately 25 yards away. The cheetah sees it plainly and clearly. The cheetah moves in quickly.
The impala is gracefully munching on some grass. Suddenly, out of his nearly 180 degree vision he sees a movement. He can not make out what it is or how far away it is but he knows it is trouble. He bolts as the cheetah bursts from the grass.
The cheetah gains top speed and is just two feet behind the impala. With a sudden calculation it knows just where and when to jump. He jumps . . . and takes the impala down.
See, for both predator and prey, their vision works just right for their lives. But, what dinosaurs had binocular vision, depth perception, etc. and which ones didn’t? For that, you will have to wait.