Surprising Hyperuniformity in Bird Retinas+Natalie Wolchover
is one of the best science writers around and she knocks it out of the park again with another brilliant piece over at Quanta discussing the hidden, non-regular, non-random pattern known as hyperuniformity that is present in the distribution of cone cells in bird retinas https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160712-hyperuniformity-found-in-birds-math-and-physics/
Birds have had the longest time to evolve better colour vision and this hyperuniform pattern on bird retinas, this pattern of the five differently sized colour-sensitive cone cells, the individual distribution of which is neither too close nor too far apart, appears to have been strongly selected for.
The pattern appears to be an optimised solution to a packing problem that must balance the constraints of packing differently sized cells as tightly as possible while ensuring uniform distribution, and contributes to birds having such fantastic vision.
But read the full piece for more detail and some counter-intuitive technological applications for hyperuniform materials distribution.
There was a release from Princeton regarding this work in early 2014, https://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S39/32/02E70/index.xml?section=topstories
, although the original discovery dates back much earlier as hinted at in Natalie's article.