“Third Eye Blind: Evolution of the Circadian Clock and Why We Don't Have a Pineal Eye,” by Will Gelnaw
The pineal eye is a photosensitive organ that helps regulate circadian cycles and behavior in many reptiles and was primitively present in the ancestors of all land-dwelling vertebrates. A review of the fossil record reveals that the pineal eye was lost, and sometimes regained, independently in many different lineages. This lead to the new hypotheses that this shift in the nervous and endocrine systems was due to the evolutionary advantages of a burrowing lifestyle.
Will Gelnaw is a Ph.D. candidate in the Jackson School of Geosciences, focusing on the role of evolutionary trade-offs in the history of life.