Scientists Put 3D Glasses on Praying Mantises To Test Depth Perception

Scientists Put 3D Glasses on Praying Mantises To Test Depth Perception

Scientists Put 3D Glasses on Praying Mantises To Test Depth Perception

In a video released alongside the research, Jenny Read, study author and professor of vision science at Newcastle University, in the United Kingdom, first describes how human vision works: each human eye captures a slightly different picture of the world in front of us, creating a three-dimensional whole. Mantis 3D vision, it turns out, is based on movement (like a T-rex from Jurassic Park).

Using the 3D glasses to manipulate what the praying mantises saw through each eye, even when the images going to the insects' two eyes were different, they could still spot the movement, which is something even humans struggle to do.

Each of our two eyes sees the world from a slightly different perspective - these are then overlaid into one image in our brains, the slight differences between the two images allowing for an instantaneous calculation of distance (hence, depth perception).

Praying mantis on circuit board wearing coloured
Scientists glued the makeshift glasses on the insects with beeswax

But these scientists found that praying mantises don't see like this. However, the only known insect to have 3D vision or stereo vision is the praying mantis.

Also known as "stereopsis", 3-D or stereo vision helps humans and other creatures determine the distances to objects we see.

But a new study has discovered that praying mantises have an altogether unique ability to see in 3D.

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Praying mantises have a talent that no other insect with compound eyes can perform. The illusion is so good the mantises try to catch it.

The team used two types of movie - the first type was a clip of delicious moving insect prey hovering right in front of the mantis. In comparison, human eyes tend to match up all the details seen by each eye to form one image. Additionally, they even tried to capture it.

"Many robots use stereo vision to help them navigate, but this is usually based on complex human stereo", says Ghaith Tarawneh, co-author of the study.

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According to their findings, mantises arrive at their 3D perception by processing visual information differently than people do, an unusual technique that allows mantises to see some objects in 3D even when humans can not.

"In mantises it is probably created to answer the question 'is there prey at the right distance for me to catch?"

According to researchers, the discovery could aid in the development of stereo vision for low-power robots, as it presents a simpler presentation of stereo vision compared to the current machines, which require a lot of computing power.

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"Mantises only attack moving prey, so their 3D doesn't need to work in still images", said Vivek Nityananda, an author of the study from Newcastle University.

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