Small glasses that were affixed to the eyes of praying mantises proved that they had 3D vision capability.
Tiny 3D glasses attached to the eyes of praying mantises have proved beyond a shadow of doubt that these curious insects have 3D vision. This will go a long way in helping mankind provide visual depth in the leading edge field of robotics.
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Even more information regarding 3D vision has arrived from studies of animals especially vertebrates. However, a study in a journal found that praying mantises, which are invertebrates, do use stereopsis or 3D vision to navigate and find their prey.
The old school 3D glasses do tend to work for mantises. However, in humans 3D glasses have red and blue lens. In case of praying mantises, the red light is hardly visible to them so they need special glasses with a green lens and a blue lens.
Praying mantises were shown to have 3D vision in the 1980s by a researcher. That seminal study used prisms and other paraphernalia. A small set of images could be shown using those odds and ends of equipment.
However, the latest group of researchers have used tiny 3D glasses suitable for insects. There is no limit to the number of images that these 3D glasses can show to the insects.
Study leader, Jenny Read, Professor of Vision Science said, “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. Better understanding of their simpler processing systems helps us understand how 3D vision evolved and could lead to possible new algorithms for 3D depth perception in computers.”
Tiny glasses were attached to the eyes of mantises with beeswax. They were shown simulated images of bugs moving across a computer screen. When the bugs were shown in 2D, the mantises didn’t respond.
But when they were shown in 3D, the mantises responded by attacking them. Thus they seem to use 3D vision in their behavioral toolkit.
The original testing of 3D glasses on mantises failed due to certain technical glitches in the system. But later on when the corrections were made, the experiments were carried out without any hindrance.
Dr Vivek Nityananda, sensory biologist at Newcastle University and part of the research team said, "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.
"We definitively demonstrated 3D vision or stereopsis in mantises and also showed that this technique can be effectively used to deliver virtual 3D stimuli to insects."
This study, done by a team from Newcastle University, UK, got published in the journal Scientific Reports.