While most of us do not get up in the morning and think about sticking a pair of 3D glasses on a praying Mantis, apparently they do in Newcastle.
Neuroscientists at Newcastle University led by vision scientist Jenny Read recently outfitted praying mantises with a little pair of 3D specs.
The goal was not to corrupt a young and impressionable generation of praying Mantises to 3d porn, they wanted to see if the insects can be tricked by 3D images.
Praying mantises have stereoscopic vision, unlike most invertebrates. When they are not at prayer, or biting the heads off their mates, they are sophisticated hunters.
By putting 3D glasses on the mantises, Read hoped to fake them out and learn how the insect's vision differs from ours.
The big idea is that you could create much simpler algorithms for programming 3D vision into robots.
Vivek Nityananda, a neuroscience research associate working with Read said that to conduct the vision testing, the scientists attach what the university says are the world's tiniest pair of 3D glasses to an insect using beeswax.
Then the mantis is placed in front of computer monitor that displays images in 3D. One image is a circle that appears to be an object coming right at the insect, intended to elicit a strike.
We guess the mantis is asked "does it look more real after the glasses go on or before".
Afterward, the specs are taken off and the mantis goes back to a room where it gets fed.
If the researchers can fool the praying mantises into making errors in judgment about depth, it will prove that they actually are judging 3D.
This is the first major research project investigating these mechanisms following the discovery made by Samuel Rossel in 1983 that praying mantises have 3D vision. Rossel conducted successful experiments by placing prisms over their eyes and creating an optical illusion that an object was within their range, thus triggering a strike from the mantises.