British scientists have just developed the world's tiniest 3D glasses to better understand insect vision. Specifically, investigators created these glasses to observe the eyes of praying mantises.
Researchers in England's northeastern Newcastle University used beeswax to fit these extremely small glasses to the praying mantises' eyes. Once the scientists turned on these glasses, the insects were treated to a 3D film that showed various prey jumping before their eyes.
The images the praying mantises saw were so lifelike that they actually tried to capture the prey they saw with their glasses on. While they were trying to capture the 3D prey, researchers observed novel features of the praying mantises' vision.
One of the major findings from this study is that praying mantises are far more interested in movement and change than image details. Professors believe this must have been an evolutionary adaptation to help praying mantises more effectively capture prey.
The Newcastle professors published a video of their research on YouTube under the title, "New 3D vision discovered in praying mantises." This video already has over 100,000 views.
The praying mantis can also be referred to as the European mantis and is officially known as Mantis religiosa. This insect got its nickname because its hands look as though it were praying when it's resting. Although it's named "European mantis," you can now find this insect in many parts of North America, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
Nivek Nityananda, who teaches behavioral ecology at Newcastle, was the head author on this study. A few other key authors include Drs. Ghaith Tarawneh, Adam Simmons, and Jenny C. A. Read.
Back in 1834, educators founded Newcastle University as a medical school attached to the University of Durham. Today, Newcastle University is independent of the University of Durham and offers hundreds of degrees ranging from dentistry to zoology. There are approximately 23,000 students enrolled in Newcastle University right now.
Interested biologists could learn more about this research in the latest edition of Current Biology. Study authors entitled this article, "A Novel Form of Stereo Vision in the Praying Mantis."