BEACON TRANSCRIPT – In a series of somewhat strange experiments, scientists have uncovered an entirely new form of vision after placing 3D glasses onto praying mantis specimens.
Why the Praying Mantis?
The praying mantis is unique among insects as it is the only bug known to humanity that has the ability to see in three dimensions just like people can. While scientists have been able to identify this detail, however, exactly how a mantis sees the world has remained a mystery for some time.
Recently, though, tests conducted at Newcastle University by Vivek Nityananda have begun to find answers. Using several mantises and a collection of tiny 3D lenses fitted to their faces, Nityananda and his team planned to run experiments to try and locate what the insects do to distinguish distances.
Using glasses designed to emulate the old style of 3D glasses (two different color lenses on each eye), the mantises were placed into small theaters. These showed different abstract patterns playing on the screens.
Utilizing the glasses, the scientists intended to make the mantises believe that the 2D screen was actually three dimensional. They did so to try and determine how the mantises judged distance as they interacted with it.
What the team found was that mantises were able to correctly identify the distance between anything that appeared to be three dimensional and moving. They were able to do so regardless of which eye took in the image.
With humans, our eyes must merge two separate yet similar images to create a single complete vision. Drastic differences between what both eyes see can cause significant confusion and discomfort.
The praying mantis did not appear to have this problem, being able to process two distinct images at once while blocking out unnecessary background elements. Thanks to this, the team began to suspect that the praying mantis’ entire vision system was built around motion.
If this is found to be true in subsequent tests, it could drastically change what we now know about vision and how the eyes of different creatures work.
Image Source: Wikimedia