Cuttlefish are amazing creatures. They not only have the ability to change the color of their skin on a dime to blend into their surroundings, but now scientists have confirmed they can also wear traditional blue/red filtered 3D glasses.
In fact, research shows that cuttlefish vision works surprisingly similarly to humans’.
For example, cuttlefish depth perception is razor-sharp. As they wore and reacted to the 3D glasses, a screen attached to their aquarium played 3D video footage of shrimp swimming by.
Invariably, the 3D shrimp on the screen caught the attention of the cuttlefish, and the cuttlefish reacted as they would in the wild – by attacking the shrimp with an accurate whip of their tentacles.
This indicates that cuttlefish have stereoscopic vision and process information through stereopsis. In other words, they use information received by both of their eyes to determine and accurately judge the distance between objects. And judging by the results, they take advantage of their stereopsis ability even more than humans do.
Their eyes have a cornea, iris, retina, and lens that covers the surface of the eye and allows them to see clearly underwater.
So how were the scientists able to get the little cephalopods to wear glasses in the first place?
Well, University of Minnesota’s assistant professor of ecology, evolution and behavior, Trevor Wardill, super-glued Velcro to the cuttlefish’s skin, then stuck the 3D classes on accordingly.
“It took a lot of coaxing of the cuttlefish to make them wear their glasses,” Wardill said. “They’ll want to play with it.”
Wardill and his team were inspired by research from Newcastle University published in June 2019. However, while Wardill chose to specifically study the vision of mollusks such as cuttlefish, the Newcastle study focused on insects; specifically, praying mantises.
That experiment demonstrated that invertebrates like praying mantises also have neurons that support stereovision.
The praying mantises in that study also wore 3D glasses, and the findings from the research have already had real-world applications in fields such as robotics.
“Various brains compute stereo vision in various ways.” Wardill said. “We thought maybe there was something special about the praying mantis.”
As it turned out, praying mantis vision isn’t any more special than cuttlefish vision. While one professor might see this as proof of sentient insectoids, we can all agree on one thing: animals wearing 3D glasses will never get old.