Scientists have fitted praying mantises with tiny 3D glasses in experiments which could help visual perception in robots.

Most studies about 3D vision involve vertebrates but a team from Newcastle University has shown that mantises, which are invertebrates, use stereopsis, or 3D perception, to hunt.

In a specially-created insect cinema, they showed that mantises fitted with traditional 3D glasses, stuck on with harmless beeswax, could be tricked into believing an image of a bug was real, causing them to pounce. But if the image was shown in 2D, they ignored it.

Scientists said this proved that the mantises used 3D vision.

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.

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

The findings have been published in Scientific Reports.

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