Bizarre experiment: Praying mantises get 3D glasses, watch bug movies

Bizarre experiment: Praying mantises get 3D glasses, watch bug movies

What in the world? Scientists give praying mantises tiny 3D glasses in a bid to understand 3D vision better.

There’s apparently no limit to what scientists will do to better understand the world around us: scientists have fitted praying mantises with tiny 3D glasses to better understand 3D vision.

The purpose of the experiment was to confirm that these bugs do actually see and hunt in 3D vision, something that researchers have suspected for many years but haven’t been able to prove, according to a CNET report.

Finally, however, researchers from Newcastle University in the UK decided they would just go ahead and design a pair of 3D glasses for these predatory insects.

Apparently, these glasses work similar to those old 3D red-and-blue glasses, except the researchers swapped out red with green because apparently the praying mantis sees the color better.

Once the praying mantises had these glasses affixed to their heads, they were shown short videos of their normal prey in 3D, prompting them to attempt to strike at the insects. In 2D, they ignored the insects.

The experiment seems to confirm what scientists have suspected all along — but why dot he study? It’s because understanding the vision of praying mantises, which are very visual hunters, can help us better understand how our own 3D vision may have evolved and could result in practical applications, like new algorithms for 3D depth perception in computers, according to the report.

“When this system failed we looked at the old-style 3D glasses with red and blue lenses,” said Dr Vivek Nityananda in a statement, sensory biologist at Newcastle University who worked on the research team. “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.”

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