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3D Mantis Vision

February 12, 2018

Praying mantises have a unique 3D visual system.


Newcastle University,UK

A praying mantis with 3D glasses. (Newcastle University)


Stereoscopic insects. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

With triangular heads, forward-facing eyes and oversized bodies, praying mantises seem just a little bit alien, especially when fitted with miniature 3D glasses for science. Newcastle University’s Vivek Nityananda and his team had the bespectacled arthropods watch 3D movies in order to compare their 3D vision to our own. Like us, they use 3D to detect how far away objects are. But the study, published in Current Biology, reveals a completely unique 3D vision system based on motion rather than images.

VIVEK NITYANANDA (Newcastle University):

They’re only interested in catching moving prey and that may be part of the reason why they have evolved a mechanism that relies primarily on detecting movement, while for us that’s not as important.


Mantises are the first known insects with 3D vision, and their simple brains could inspire the design of 3D vision in robots. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard