Researchers have confirmed that bugs see in three dimensions by fitting a praying mantis with a tiny pair of 3-D glasses.
A team of researchers form Newcastle University in the U.K. have made a sunning discovery. According to a report from the Tech Times, scientists have confirmed that praying mantises see in three dimensions, a finding that could lead to the development of highly sensitive robots with sharp vision of their own.
The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports, and describes how vision expert Jenny Read and her team fitted a praying mantis with a miniature pair of 3-D glasses. The glasses will test how the insects use stereopsis, a unique form of 3-D vision, to see the world around them as they hunt for prey.
The glasses combined blue and green lenses instead of the traditional red and blue, because praying mantises cannot perceive red light wavelengths. Read says that even though the brain of a praying mantis is extremely tiny, it is highly sensitive to visual stimuli and uses this capability to hunt with extreme precision.
Read hopes the study will offer more insight into how 3-D vision developed, and potentially lead to more advanced computer algorithms that improve 3-D depth perception.
The scientists attached miniature 3-D glasses to praying mantises using beeswax. They then showed the bugs short video clips of other insects walking around on a screen. When the mantises viewed the bugs on a flat 2-D screen, they made no attempt to attack. When they donned the 3-D glasses, however, the mantises leapt toward the screen attempting to snare the bugs.
They used modern 3-D technology that can be found in movie and home theatres throughout the world. The devices use circular polarization to separate the images perceived by each eye. It just required a small tweak to allow the mantises to see the right colors.
According to co-author Dr. Vivek Nityananda, “When this system failed we looked at the old-style 3D glasses with red and blue lenses. Since red light is poorly visible to mantises, we used green and blue glasses and an LED monitor with unusually narrow output in the green and blue wavelength.”
A press release from Newcastle University describing the recent discovery can be found here.