Scientists are giving tiny 3D glasses to Praying Mantises

Jan 09, 2016, 18:44
Scientists are giving tiny 3D glasses to Praying Mantises

Better understanding how the insects use 3D vision may help scientists develop new ideas about how to use 3D in technology, Dr. Jenny Read, professor of vision science at Newcastle University in England and the study's leader, said in a statement.

To conduct the study, researchers constructed a specially-designed "insect cinema", complete with itty-bitty 3D glasses, attached with beeswax. Interestingly, the mantises did not attempt to hunt the simulated bugs when they were shown in 2-D, but once shown in three dimensions - as if floating in front of the screen - the mantises struck.

While I don't really enjoy seeing any living creature subjected to the rigors of science, this research is pretty incredible and follows up on the 1980s work by Samuel Rossel using prisms and occluders to prove the visual prowess of praying mantises.

Though mantises have small brains, they are considered to be quite sophisticated visual hunters that can capture prey with terrifying efficiency.

'We can learn a lot by studying how they perceive the world, ' Read said.

And it seems the mantises don't mind wearing the glasses for a few weeks before they fall of naturally.

These developments will allow researchers to further speculate about the evolution of 3D vision.

Anaglyph glasses are the precursors of modern 3D glasses, using blue or red lenses in order to create the 3D effect.

"We definitively demonstrated 3-D vision or stereopsis in mantises and also showed that this technique can be effectively used to deliver virtual 3-D stimuli to insects", he added.

Sensory biologist at Newcastle University, Dr Vivek Nityananda, mentioned that when this system didn't succeed, they considered the old-style 3D glasses that have red and blue lenses.

While humans have moved past wearing two-colored 3D glasses to see the latest Star Wars movie, opting for a cool black pair instead, praying mantises have just begun their foray into the magic of 3D movies. When this did not work, the team switched to the older type of glasses that use one red lens and one blue lens.

"We have used our insect 3-D cinema to provide clear and dramatic proof of stereopsis in insects", the study authors wrote. When shown the same images in 2D, they didn't go for the bait.

The same was proved by providing mantises with the insect images on a bright background that resembled the shape of the animal's prey. The results will help in performing the process and improving the visual perception technology in robots and computers.

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