Scientists discover that praying mantises use an unknown type of vision

A team of scientists led by Vivek Nityanandu from Newcastle University tried to understand the nature of the complex vision of mantises, but received more new questions than answers to old ones. Unlike other insects, praying mantises have eyes that look straight ahead, and it would be logical to assume that they use binocular vision like primates. But this turned out not to be the case at all.

To understand where each of the praying mantis eyes is looking, the scientists attached a tiny sensor lens to them using beeswax. The procedure is painless, and the use of lenses of different colors made it possible to accurately identify where a particular eye is directed. Further, a target point began to slide across the screen and the praying mantis unmistakably “aimed” at it with both eyes.

In the second experiment, the scientists went for a trick: the point suddenly split and two new ones ran in different directions. However, the praying mantis continued to control the movement of both, with different eyes. It turns out that he does not need to superimpose the image from the right eye on the image from the left in order to obtain depth of vision and recognize an approaching object. The insect orientates itself in the three-dimensional world with one eye and this type of vision is still unknown to science.

The brain of the praying mantis contains only a million neurons versus 85 billion in humans, but this "computing power" is enough to provide three-dimensional vision with scanty initial data. If scientists manage to understand how this works, they will be able to create "electronic eyes" for primitive, mass robots, in which there is simply nowhere, and it is expensive to install sophisticated equipment for orientation in space.