The sclera (from the Greek skleros, meaning hard), also known as the white of the eye, is the opaque, fibrous, protective, outer layer of the eye containing collagen and elastic fiber. In humans the whole sclera is white, contrasting with the coloured iris, but in other mammals the visible part of the sclera matches the colour of the iris, so the white part
does not normally show. In the development of the embryo, the sclera is derived from the neural crest. In children, it is thinner and shows some of the underlying pigment,
appearing slightly blue. In the elderly, fatty deposits on the sclera can make it appear slightly yellow.Human eyes are somewhat distinctive (in addition to horse, penguin, and many others) in the animal kingdom in that the sclera is very plainly visible whenever the eye is open. This is not just due to the white color of the human sclera, which many other species share, but also to the fact that the human iris is relatively small and comprises a significantly smaller portion of the exposed eye surface compared to other animals. It is theorized that this adaptation evolved because of our social nature as the eye became a useful communication tool in addition to a sensory organ. It is believed that the conspicuous sclera of the human eye makes it easier for one individual to infer where another individual is looking, increasing the efficacy of this particular form ofnonverbal communication. Animal researchers have also found that, in the course of their domestication, dogs have also developed the ability to pick up visual cues from the eyes of humans, making them one of only two species known to seek visual cues from another individual’s eyes. Dogs do not seem to use this form of communication with one another and only look for visual information from the eyes of humans.