Bug eyes: Tiny 3-D glasses confirm insect 3-D vision

January 7, 2016
A mantis wearing 3D glasses. Credit: Newcastle University

Miniature glasses have proved that mantises use 3D vision - providing a new model to improve visual perception in robots.

Most knowledge about 3D has come from vertebrates, however, a team from Newcastle University, UK publishing today in Scientific Reports, confirm that the praying mantis, an invertebrate, does indeed use stereopsis or 3D perception for hunting.

In a specially-designed insect cinema, they have shown that it needs to be 'old school' 3D glasses for tests to work on mantises. While in humans that would be with red and blue lenses, red light is poorly visible to mantises so they have custom-made glasses with one blue and one green lens!

Better understanding of 3D vision

3D vision in mantises was originally shown in the 1980s by Samuel Rossel, but his work used prisms and occluders which meant that only a very limited set of images could be shown. The Newcastle University team has developed 3D glasses suitable for insects which means they can show the insects any images they want, opening up new avenues of research.

Study leader, Jenny Read, Professor of Vision Science 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.

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"Better understanding of their simpler processing systems helps us understand how 3D vision evolved, and could lead to possible new algorithms for 3D in computers."

In the experiments, mantises fitted with tiny glasses attached with beeswax were shown short videos of simulated bugs moving around a computer screen. The mantises didn't try to catch the bugs when they were in 2D. But when the bugs were shown in 3D, apparently floating in front of the screen, the mantises struck out at them. This shows that mantises do indeed use 3D vision.

A mantis wearing 3-D glasses. Credit: Newcastle University

Old-school 3D glasses

Initial testing of the most widely-used contemporary 3D technology used for humans - using circular polarization to separate the two eyes' images - didn't work because the insects were so close to the screen that the glasses failed to separate the two eyes' images correctly.

Dr Vivek Nityananda, sensory biologist at Newcastle University and part of the research team continues: "When this system failed we looked at the old-style 3D glasses with red and blue lenses. Since 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.

A mantis wearing 3D glasses. Credit: Newcastle University

"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."

The Newcastle University team will now continue the research examining the algorithms used for depth perception in insects to better understand how human vision evolved and to develop new ways of adding 3D technology to computers and robots.

Explore further: Researchers present new prototype of 3D display which can be used without 3D glasses

More information: Vivek Nityananda et al. Insect stereopsis demonstrated using a 3D insect cinema, Scientific Reports (2016). DOI: 10.1038/srep18718

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7 comments

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gwrede
not rated yet Jan 07, 2016
Next thing I know, they find out that flies have 3D vision. Encouraged by this, they test crows, owls, cats and dogs. After these successes, they build up the courage to test if chimpanzees have it, too.

Oh, sigh. I guess a diligent scientist proves it separately for every species.

Much more interesting were to find a single species that has two eyes with partially overlapping fields of vision, that does not have 3D vision. Now, that would be worth the ink.
BartV
1.9 / 5 (9) Jan 07, 2016
One thing I am sure of---that the amazing eyes that we all possess did not come about from some chance-based evolution. Totally impossible. And 2 perfectly made eyes with 3D? Anyone who even suggests that these came about by chance is blind and foolish.

Drjsa_oba
5 / 5 (2) Jan 07, 2016
One thing I am sure of---that the amazing eyes that we all possess did not come about from some chance-based evolution. Totally impossible. And 2 perfectly made eyes with 3D? Anyone who even suggests that these came about by chance is blind and foolish.

One thing I am sure of is that you, BartV are either liar or a fool - probably both. Evolution studies have never indicated anywhere that any organ arises by chance! To claim otherwise is either a lie or disingenuous or both.

Everyone that knows anything about evolution will pretty much agree on that. A certain percentage of copies of DNA/RNA will not be perfect perhaps a high %. Some copies will be off by so much that they are detrimental to the survival of the host, others will not make much difference to survival and thus will continue to be passed on with further changes. Only this is the chance factor.
jsdarkdestruction
5 / 5 (2) Jan 08, 2016
One thing I am sure of---that the amazing eyes that we all possess did not come about from some chance-based evolution. Totally impossible. And 2 perfectly made eyes with 3D? Anyone who even suggests that these came about by chance is blind and foolish.


It wasn't started fully formed. It evolved to the current state gradually. More than once in fact. You are the only one suggesting eyes started out this advanced and "perfect" by chance. None of us believe that. So you are the one looking like a fool.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2016
One thing I am sure of is that you, BartV are either liar or a fool - probably both. Evolution studies have never indicated anywhere that any organ arises by chance! To claim otherwise is either a lie or disingenuous or both.

He doesn't even understand the word. If he's too lazy to look up what evolution actually means there's no point in arguing with him. Just put him on ignore.
mreda14
1 / 5 (1) Jan 15, 2016
The scientists from the university of Newcastle has done some experiments to prove that the eyes of insects like bees, cockroach and flies have a three dimensional structure. These insect see the world with three dimensional eyes. The city of Newcastle in Scotland is famous for producing the best whiskey and beer that is sold all over the world. I think this must be a factor.
mreda14
1 / 5 (2) Jan 15, 2016
Scottish whisky is distinguished from other whiskey in that it is a colloid. Basically a suspension of nano-particles in water like Johnnie Walker. Johnnie Walker is a brand of Scotch whisky owned by Diageo that originated in Scotland. It is the most widely distributed brand of blended Scotch whisky in the world, sold in almost every country, with annual sales of over 130 million bottles

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