What possible evolutionary adaptations could you foresee in the sensory organs of wildlife in an environment beset by a nigh-permanent sandstorm? e.g. in the case of vision, ways to protect the eyes from sand, as well as to enhance their vision in that specific low-light scenario.

Secondly, what about hearing? Or even the mouth-plans of creatures in the environmental equivalent of a sand-blaster? I'm sure scent would be heavily hampered -- or would it? Touch and its subforms, and perhaps mechanoreception, would probably become important (I'm guessing.)

But what do you think? What sort of adaptations would you foresee?

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    $\begingroup$ you can't have a nigh permanent sand storm, the sand itself will be abraded to dust rather quickly. vision will not work even the toughest organic materials will be abraded to nothing in a few days, it is also worthless it is extremely dark inside a sand storm. You also have no base to your food chain. what is replacing plants? $\endgroup$
    – John
    May 11, 2020 at 18:53

1 Answer 1


Sand is abrasive - so tougher skins.

Perhaps the skin could be tougher or perhaps adapt to capture the sand particles to provide protection where sand could hit sand retained on the outer surface of the skin to provide protection. This may also drive behavioral adaptations such as avoiding the flying sand by burrowing or sheltering underground.

Eyes would need to be protected but the light levels could also be lower so bigger pupils could be needed. Eyelids and lashes could be adaptations, even human eyes replenish the outer cells rapidly.

Looking at longer optical wavelengths would let the creature see farther. Once the wavelength of is larger than the particle size, the scattering is different and Far Infrared or THz could be used to image.

A creature could also use echolocation to sense in some fashion. The wind and sand noise may be higher frequency and lower frequency sounds could go farther.

These types of imaging would be lower resolution than eyes at optical wavelengths. You could still have sharp nearfield vision.

Hearing - wind and sand noise is turbulent and high frequency. So lower frequency sounds should travel farther and be easier to hear.

I think most odors are small molecules so while they may move around with the sand and wind, so nose's should still work. What could be interesting though is as the sand hits stuff it may also carry odors or information. So a creature might find it useful to "taste" the particles too.

I tend to think of this being a dry environment, I suppose otherwise it could be muddy, but I think being able to respond to the changes in humidity, or if it wasn't a dry sandstrom that could also drive adaptations.


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