One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A reflective layer of the choroid in the eyes of many animals, causing them to shine in the dark.
- ‘Only animals active at night have these tapetums, which underlie their light-retrieving retinas.’
- ‘These animals typically contain abundant populations of rods in their retinas, which are often found in conjunction with a retinal tapetum.’
- ‘This ‘eyeshine’ is not the iris color but that of the vascular membrane - the tapetum - showing through the translucent pigment layer on the surface of the retina.’
- ‘A layer of tapetum at the back of their eyes greatly increases their ability to see at night as well; this also makes their eyes glow in the dark.’
- ‘Passing over the ship's holds I look down upon sedate shoals of crescent-tailed bigeyes, their reflective tapetums looking like silver cataracts.’
Early 18th century: from late Latin, from Latin tapete ‘carpet’.
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