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3D Glasses For Praying Mantis Are World's Smallest

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MANTIS
SWNS

Why does this chap look so happy? Well obviously it's because he's got a brand new pair of shades.

Scientists researching vision have made the world's smallest pair of 3D glasses for this praying mantis.

Boffins are putting the specs on the the bug because it is the only invertebrate which can see in 3D - other insects only see in 2D.

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Preying Mantis And His Trendy Specs
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Experts at Newcastle University have attached the half-centimetre wide eyewear to the tiny insect with beeswax in a bid to learn more.

The creatures will be played a film - just like a human 3D movie - featuring simulations of flies appearing within the strike distance of the insect.

If the bug accurately pounces it will prove that despite its simple nervous system, it can process the images in the same way.

It is hoped this could give insight into 3D vision which could provide cheaper and less technical versions of the technology.

Dr Vivek Nityananda, one of the investigators, said: "This is a really exciting project to be working on.

"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.

"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 #1million research programme aims to understand 3D vision and compare it with vision in humans.

Analysing how mantises see in three dimensions could give clues about how 3D vision evolved and lead to new 3D inventions.

Dr Jenny Read from the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, who is leading the project, added: "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."

It is the first major research project investigating mantises since 1983 when Samuel Rossel discovered they have 3D vision.

Rossel placed prisms over their eyes and creating an optical illusion that an object was within their range, triggering a strike from the mantises.