It seems quite odd to think that birds and reptiles have anything in common, let alone humans with birds and reptiles, but researchers found out that they do have something similar with one another.

A new study in Frontiers in Veterinary Science shows that tears of birds and reptiles are actually similar to human tears. Understanding the makeup of a species’ tear can give insight into better eye treatment for both humans and animals, and improve humans’ understanding of evolutionary adaptations.

Researchers in Brazil collected samples of animal tears from birds and reptiles, including macaws, hawks, owls, and parrots, as well as tortoises, caimans, and sea turtles.

“It’s important to understand healthy animals in order to treat sick animals, because species depend on their vision,” lead author Arianne Oria, a professor of clinic veterinary medicine at the Federal University of Bahia in Salvador, Brazil, said in a press release. “Animals are not able to live without vision in the wild. A sea turtle without vision will die.”

The new study could help veterinarians treat eye diseases among animals.

“Although birds and reptiles have different structures that are responsible for tear production, some components of this fluid (electrolytes) are present at similar concentrations as what is found in humans,” Oria added. “But the crystal structures are organized in different ways so that they guarantee the eyes’ health and an equilibrium with the various environments.”

Through the animals’ tears, scientists were also given more insight into the health of animal habitats and its pollution levels.

“Tears are the most exposed fluids to the environment. So, with subtle modifications to the environment, the tears will modify,” Oria explained. “For example, in humans, we know that people who smoke have their tears modified.”

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