Praying Mantises and 3-D Glasses
Researchers at the Newcastle University have recently outfitted praying mantises with 3-D glasses.
Though it may seem like some sort of pop-art fashion statement, the glasses are actually part of an experiment studying how 3-D vision evolved.
The praying mantis was selected because it is primarily a visual hunter, sitting and waiting to attack prey. In fact, praying mantises are the only insect that can turn their head without moving their body—a trait that allows them to be near motionless while waiting.
Many even have camouflage to look like flowers or leaves, but this isn’t for defense; it’s so they can more easily ambush their food.
Researchers found the mantises wouldn’t react to 2-D projections of insects, but when a 3-D insect was projected—they attacked!
The researchers hope to apply their findings to 3-D vision in robots.
Some Other Mantis Weirdness
The praying mantis is the only known animal to have a single ear—it’s located on its chest. This ear can detect the sonar signals of bats—allowing mantises to evade capture.
In Japan, it was once commonplace to attach a praying mantis to their bed to protect the sleeper from mosquitoes.