by Andrew Parker, 352 pp, $15, ISBN 0-4650-54382, New York, NY, Basic Books, 2003.
As ophthalmologists, we know the impact vision has on the quality of our lives. However, until we read In the Blink of an Eye, we had no idea how important vision was to the development of life itself. In this carefully crafted book for the popular-science press, Dr Parker retraces with us the steps he took to arrive at his Light Switch theory of the Cambrian explosion; that is, “how vision sparked the big bang of evolution.”
Dr Parker first explains the what of the Cambrian explosion. The 38 animal phyla on Earth today basically existed way back in the Pre-Cambrian. The Cambrian explosion took those 38 internal body plans out of their plain, brown, worm-like wrappers and dressed them up in an array of hard external body parts: spines, armor, and murderous, piercing jaws.
In the Blink of an Eye: How Vision Sparked the Big Bang of Evolution. Arch Ophthalmol. 2006;124(1):142. doi:10.1001/archopht.124.1.142