Reported by Sarah Gray on SALON.com, the goal of this buggy experiment is to better understand three dimensional (3-D) vision. Analyzing how praying mantises see in 3-D can help scientists understand the evolution of 3-D vision, as well as help develop and implement 3-D vision and depth perception in robotics.
I know what you're thinking: So why use praying mantises in a study like this? Well, it turns out that the stick-legged bugs have vision very similar to our own. According to Newcastle University, praying mantises are the only invertebrates known to have 3-D vision. Other animals that possess this same type of vision include cats, horses, sheep, macaques, rabbits, toads and barn owls, as stated in the SALON.com article.
To perform the experiments, which involve presenting 3-D stimuli and moving targets in front of the mantises, the team uses beeswax to attach the tiny spectacles to the insect. With the glasses on, the mantises are placed in front of a computer screen for the series of tests. Once the experiment is over, the glasses are removed and the mantises are placed back in their living space to feed on crickets - what a life!
To learn more about the experiment and to hear from the researchers themselves, see the full SALON.com report.
A video of the experiment can be viewed below: