A viral image of a martial eagle eerily staring into your soul using eyes covered in a protective membrane has Instagram buzzing. The “Nature is Metal” Instagram account definitely isn’t for the faint of heart–it’s full of graphic images of animals that haven’t been censored or edited in any way. Even so, it’s managed to grow a following of over 4 million people who appreciate its raw honesty. With high-profile followers like Joe Rogan, it’s one of the most shared Instagram accounts out there.
A recent post featuring a martial eagle‘s unique eye protection has followers chiming in. It’s an extreme close-up of the great bird, blood and viscera spattering its beak. The predator’s eyes are protected by a ghastly gray membrane. Looking it over, it’s hard not to think of zombies.
As always, “Nature is Metal” goes into great detail about the content. “Martial eagle uses her nictitating membrane to shield her eyes,” they caption the image. “Unlike the upper and lower eyelids, the nictitating membrane is drawn horizontally across the eyeball to protect and moisten, while maintaining some vision. In many species where these third eyelids are present, any stimulus to the eyeball (eg: a puff of air) will result in the membrane responding via reflex.”
“Nature is Metal” then goes onto point out that the membrane is actually pretty common. “Fully functional nictitating membranes are found in fish, amphibians, birds, reptiles, and some mammals like cats, polar bears, beavers, camels, seals and aardvarks. The membrane is rare in primates, however lemurs and most lorisoids remain the exception. The membrane has various use cases depending on the animal it is attached to.”
Instagram users were wishing for protective membranes like martial eagles
The post wraps with information about polar bears using the membrane to shield from snow blindness and birds using it to protect their eyes while feeding their babies.
The post has garnered over 50,000 likes and dozens of comments. Of course, Instagram users were taken by both the image and the caption. “Reminds me of the way my ex wife used to glare me down,” one haunted user commented. Another was disappointed that humans don’t have such a membrane. “All i’m reading here is that basically everyone got cool ass hunting eyelids except us,” they quipped. “Man I’ve always wanted another set of eyelids,” another user agreed.
The martial eagle is a large predator bird native to Africa. They opportunistically hunt other animals for food, including mammals, birds, and reptiles. They have a talon that they use to pick up their prey and feast on them in the air.
The martial eagle has decreased rapidly in numbers over the last few centuries due to various reasons. It is one of the most persecuted birds globally because it often eats livestock and game that people hunt for food, despite scientists believing that eagles have little impact on these animals’ populations. The International Union for Conservation of Nature currently categorizes the martial eagle as endangered.