Praying mantises fitted with tiny 3D glasses all in the name of science

Researchers hope to understand how human vision evolved and develop new ways of adding 3D technology to computers and robots

The praying mantis is the only invertebrate known to have the ability to see in three dimensions. So, in the name of science, researchers decided to look into the elegant insect’s sight a bit further - by fitting test subjects with tiny 3D glasses.

The team from Newcastle University aims to understand how the bug’s vision compares to that of humans in the hope of finding clues about how our 3D vision evolved.

The analysis may also help lead to the development of novel approaches in implementing 3D recognition and depth perception in computer vision and robotics, the team said. Making the mantis look like an absolute dude was a [welcome] consequence.

Dr Jenny Read, from the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University who is heading up the research 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.”

The study has been funded by a £1 million research grant in order to “characterise the mechanisms of 3D vision in mantises and how these mechanisms can be applied in science and industry”.

Dr Vivek Nityananda who is part of the team carrying out the research said: “So much is still waiting to be discovered in this system. If we find that the way mantises process 3D vision is very different to the way humans do it, then that could open up all kinds of possibilities to create much simpler algorithms for programming 3D vision into robots."

A key component of the research is presenting the mantis with virtual 3D stimuli, such as moving targets which the insects view through world’s tinniest 3D glasses attached by beeswax.

Dr Nityananda explained: “We can do this by fooling them into misjudging depth, in the same way that our brains are fooled when we watch a 3D movie.”

The experiment will determine if mantis can see the moving object standing out in depth in a similar way to humans and monkeys, the team said.

This is the first major research project investigating the praying mantises' site since the Samuel Rossel’s 1983 discovery that the insects have 3D vision.

Mr Rossel came to the conclusion after placing prisms over the mantises’ eyes and creating an optical illusion that an object was within their range, prompting them to strike at it.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'