The same team had observed in 2016 that the praying mantis is capable of 3D vision - possibly the only insect in the world to be so. This enabled them to compare human and insect 3D vision for the first time.
The good news is that if you've ever had a nightmare about finding yourself face-to-face with a giant praying mantis (we've all been there), we now know the best way to trick this particular monster.
In their insect 3D cinema, they could show the mantis a movie of tasty prey, apparently hovering right in front of the mantis.
The insects were introduced to two types of movies.
Each of our two eyes sees the world from a slightly different perspective - these are then overlaid into one image in our brains, the slight differences between the two images allowing for an instantaneous calculation of distance (hence, depth perception).
Who would've thought praying mantises had so much to teach us. This actually allows them to see some 3D videos that don't make sense to the human eye.
"Mantises only attack moving prey, so their 3D doesn't need to work in still images", said Vivek Nityananda, an author of the study from Newcastle University.
Some of the same group of scientists had created a spectacle in 2016 by outfitting praying mantises with miniature 3D specs. After various trial runs, the Newcastle researchers found that the bugs don't bother at all about the details of a picture and instead look for the places where the picture is changing, such as moving prey over a background. Even if you're not terribly interested in mantis vision, the way the team conducted this research is just delightful.
According to their findings, mantises arrive at their 3D perception by processing visual information differently than people do, an unusual technique that allows mantises to see some objects in 3D even when humans can not. Additionally, they even tried to capture it.
"In mantises it is probably created to answer the question 'is there prey at the right distance for me to catch?"
As part of the wider research, a Newcastle University engineering student developed an electronic mantis arm which mimics the distinct striking action of the insect.
She said: "Reducing the amount of computer power necessary means smaller, lightweight robots could use mantis stereo algorithms to detect depth".
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