A newly released study comes to suggest that insects might not be our inferiors when it comes to sight. Research findings conclude that these have quite a high resolution vision of the world as they can see better in more detailed than currently believed.
Science considers the insects’ vision to be less clear than that of humans, for example, because of their compound eyes. These consists of thousands of small and lens-capped “eye-units”. It was believed that combining them would result in a pixelated and low-resolution image of their surroundings.
The High Resolution Vision of Insects and How it was Explained
University of Sheffield Department of Biomedical Science researchers, in collaboration with their Cambridge, Lisbon, and Beijing partners are now suggesting that the insect vision is far superior when compared to how we perceived it.
The team of scientists noted that the tiny lenses in an insect’s eye cannot accommodate or move as those of a human. However, they also observed that these lenses present photoreceptor cells underneath them. These cells were noted to be moving rapidly and automatically both in and out of focus. Through this, they sample an image of their surroundings and return a perhaps surprisingly high-quality picture.
The team points out that these microscopic light-sensors “twitch” so fast, that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. To best record and study these movements, the scientists had to build a microscope equipped with a high-speed camera system. Thanks to it, they were able to see the twitching inside an intact insect eye during light stimulation.
This is seemingly also just one of the elements that contribute to the insects’ having a hyper acute vision.
“Our results show that by adapting the way photoreceptor cells sample light information to saccadic eye movements and gaze fixations, evolution has optimised the visual perception of animals,” states the study lead, Mikko Juusola.
Researchers are now testing to find out whether similar processes in the compound eyes of other insects than those analyzed in this study, namely, fruit flies. They are looking for this effect in vertebrates.
Current study results are available in the journal eLife.
Image Source: Pixabay