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Scientists Test Praying Mantises for Strereopsis, Outfit Them With 3-D Glasses


What was previously thought to be exclusive to vertebrates, a team scientists aimed to figure out if insects were also capable of seeing in 3-D, also known as strereopsis.

According to CBS News, the researchers equipped a group of praying mantises with 3-D glasses to test a theory first introduced in the 1980s, conducting a slightly more sophisticated version of that experiment. The researchers published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.

"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," study co-author Jenny Read, a professor of vision science at Newcastle University, said in a press release. "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."

They presented the mantises with 3-D images of their prey, which the insects try to grab as if they were hunting. But if the mantis saw the same image in 2-D, it would not react.

"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," study lead author Vivek Nityananda, a sensory biologist at Newcastle, said in the release. "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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