You’re a lion stalking a domestic herd of cows. It’s usually an easy meal. You crawl under a fence and close distance on a small group. You pick out a heifer that is face down in a clump of grass. You wait patiently. Her head lifts up and she turns. Your heart thumps, adrenaline flows. Right as you take a step, committing to an ambush, you freeze, feeling deeply unsettled. A big pair of eyes is staring you down. You back up and hide.
Cats are especially keen at gaze detection. When they see an animal turn its eyes away, it compels them to stalk and attack. That’s why if you run into a big cat, you’re supposed to walk backwards while facing them at all times.
Farmers that stamp eyespots on their favorite cows give them an advantage in not being preyed upon.1 A PDF guide and video on how to make the stamps is available here, using EVA foam and enamel paint.
I’m making eyespots out of EVA foam that clip onto the back of a hat, like these:
I couldn’t find them for sale anywhere, so I made my own. I’m also making eyespot stamps for short hair dogs. I wasn’t expecting to be attacked by a big predator in the near future, but they look cool. Email me if you want a pair.
Artificial eyespots on cattle reduce predation by large carnivores. Radford, et al. https://www.nature.com/articles/s42003-020-01156-0