Praying mantises get extra-tiny 3D glasses to test their vision

While 3D video may not be very popular these days, someone's still wearing 3D glasses -- or rather, something. Newcastle University scientists are outfitting praying mantises with very small 3D eyewear to test their depth perception, which is unique in the insect world; most species are limited to 2D. The researchers want to see if the bugs are fooled by the effects of a 3D movie like that you'd see in a theater. If they are, we'll know that they evolved 3D vision similar to that of humans and monkeys.

If they aren't, things get interesting. That suggests that there's a different approach to depth perception that could translate to simpler algorithms for 3D-sensing robots. It's too soon to know how the mantis study will play out, so there's no guarantee that it will lead to a biological or technological breakthrough. Think of it this way, though -- if nothing else, Newcastle will have the world's hippest-looking invertebrates on its hands.