Tiny 3D Glasses On Mantis Reveal New Form of Stereo Vision

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Researchers have discovered the novel way that praying mantises' 3D vision works. They gathered their findings with the help of a pair of tiny 3D glasses they outfitted onto a praying mantis.

3D Or Stereo Vision

3D or stereo vision allows humans to determine the distances of seen images. The two eyes see slightly different views, which the brain then processes to make one single image while at the same time working out the differences between the two images to determine how far away the object is. Apart from humans, other animals such as horses, monkeys, and cats also have stereo vision. However, among insects, only the praying mantis is known to have stereo vision.

Unique as they are to the insect world, as it turns out, the praying mantis is also unique to other creatures with stereo vision because researchers have found that their stereo vision works quite differently from the rest.

Tiny 3D Glasses For A Novel 3D Vision

In order to determine whether the praying mantis' 3D vision works in the same way as the humans', researchers from the Newcastle University in the United Kingdom outfitted a praying mantis with its very own 3D glasses, which were attached onto the mantis using beeswax.

Apart from looking quite cool, the praying mantis shared its novel means of utilizing its 3D vision. When presented with a video of a moving prey, the mantis tried to attack the digital prey. What's more, when researchers presented the mantis with 2D dot patterns, which are normally used to test human 3D vision, they found that the mantis was actually able to detect the movement while completely ignoring the still images. In comparison, human eyes tend to match up all the details seen by each eye to form one image.

Only In Search Of Prey

Researchers surmise that this is perhaps because the mantises only use their 3D vision to hunt for prey. In other words, they only tend to bother about the things in the picture which are moving. Incredibly, when researchers presented the mantis with a different image for each eye, the mantis was still able to detect the changes or movements in each image, something that humans cannot do.

"In mantises it is probably designed to answer the question 'is there prey at the right distance for me to catch?" said Dr. Vivek Nityananda from Newcastle University, coauthor of the study.

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.

The study is published in the journal Current Biology.

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