Stunning selection of close up portraits reveal incredible diversity in the animal kingdom

From the compound lenses of shrimp to our own mammalian orbs, eyes are one of the most engaging and captivating features in biology. They act as our gateway to a world of visual sensory information capturing colour, shade, position and movement of objects in the world around us.

A new set of stunning photographs has now captured the huge diversity of different shapes and designs the eye has evolved into in nature.

Speaking to National Geographic, biologist Tom Cronin, from the University of Maryland, explains: 'What is the animal actually seeing? It's impossible to know as it goes into a brain that's very alien to ours, it goes through processes that we don't use when we process visual stimuli.

The eye of a domestic dog

'The animal does things with that information that we don't do, so it's really really hard to know.'

Eyes have intrigued humans for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Artists have often struggled to capture them and it is not surprising they are often the focal point of photographs of animals and humans alike.

The eye of a western lowland gorilla

Yet they have also sparked debate, with some claiming the eye provides proof that life was created by a supreme being through intelligent design, while scientists argue it is the ultimate proof of how evolution can solve a problem in many different ways.

The eye of a white rhinoceros

The eye of a southern ground-hornbill 

The eye of a red-eyed tree frog

The eye of a gargoyle gecko

The eye of a scarlet macaw

The eye of a Cuban rock iguana

The eye of a common ostrich

The eye of a blue-eyed black lemur

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