It is well established that early in development interconnections within the mammalian visual system are often more widespread and less precise than at maturity. The literature dealing with the formation of visual connections has largely ignored differences in developmental specificity among species differing in their phylogenetic status and/or the visual ecological niche that they occupy. Based on a review of the available evidence, we have formulated an hypothesis to account for the varying degrees of developmental specificity that characterize different visual systems. It is suggested that extremely precise systems required for high-acuity binocular vision exhibit fewer presumed developmental errors than do visual systems characterized by poorer acuity and relatively crude depth perception. The developmental implications of the hypothesis are considered, and specific experiments are proposed to further test its validity.

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