Researchers have discovered that praying mantises have 3D vision.
Researchers from the Newcastle University in the United Kingdom made praying mantises wear tiny 3D glasses to test if the insects have strereopsis, or 3D vision. In their experiments with the insects, they discovered that the praying mantises do have 3D vision. The finding is very significant because up until now, 3D vision had only been confirmed in vertebrates.
Jenny Read, a Professor of Vision Science at the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, and a member of Newcastle’s Centre for Behavior and Evolution, and the lead author of the study, said, “We have used our insect 3D cinema to provide clear and dramatic proof of stereopsis in insects. This technique opens up broad new avenues of research. Despite their minute brains, mantises are sophisticated visual hunters which can capture prey with terrifying efficiency. We can learn a lot by studying how they perceive the world.”
The researchers put “anaglyph” glasses on the mantises. These glasses are similar to those old-fashioned red and blue lenses for 3D films. However, the researchers switch to blue and green lenses, because the praying mantises can’t see red light clearly. The researchers stated that this gave the mantises the “illusion of 3D depth.” Their vision was tested by providing the insects images on a bright background that resembled the shape of the animal’s prey. Three-dimensional versions of the images caused the mantises to strike out at them, because it seemed like the shapes were moving toward them. Two-dimensional images did not produce this response.
Vivek Nityananda, sensory biologist from the Newcastle University, and one of the members of the study, said, “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.”
The researchers believe that the findings from this study will help them to understand human depth perception and the ways human vision processes three-dimensional images.
The findings were published in the Scientific Results journal.