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Scientists have tested whether cuttlefish can see in 3D

An experiment published in the scientific journal Science Advances, in which researchers tested whether cuttlefish can see in 3D, has attracted a lot of attention in recent days. During the tests, the test animals were fitted with miniature 3D glasses and played different footage to see how they reacted. The aim of the experiment was
Published: January 15, 2020 - 12:35
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 19:07
Scientists have tested whether cuttlefish can see in 3D

An experiment published in the scientific journal Science Advances, in which researchers tested whether cuttlefish can see in 3D, has attracted a lot of attention in recent days. During the tests, the test animals were fitted with miniature 3D glasses and played different footage to see how they reacted.

The aim of the experiment was obviously not to find out what cuttlefish think about the latest film productions, but rather to understand how they perceive the world around them. It turns out that these small cephalopods have a very interesting perception of depth.

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Contrary to earlier assumptions prevailing in the scientific world, it turns out that cuttlefish not only see in three dimensions, but also use their brains to accurately perceive depth. Although, as the authors of the experiment admit, it was not easy to come to these conclusions…

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“Imagine that putting on the little 3D glasses for a nematode is not the easiest of tasks. We had to stick Velcro to the animal’s skin and then attach the glasses to it. On top of this, the test subject had to be properly rewarded, so we gave the cuttlefish a prawn each time.” – said Trevor Wardill, lead author of the study from the University of Minnesota

Once the cuttlefish had become accustomed to the glasses, the researchers began showing them animated images of shrimp, their main food. To determine how the creatures use the information coming into their brains from both eyes, the researchers observed where the cuttlefish tried to strike.

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The results were extremely surprising. The cuttlefish extended their tentacles and attacked the prawns on the screen in the same way they would do in the wild. When the researchers made the shrimp images appear to be closer or further away, the cuttlefish would change their position in the tank before they proceeded to attack.

Through the study, scientists have concluded that the species’ vision works in a similar way to that of humans. They were able to establish that cuttlefish can explain the differences between what their eyes see by using calculations in the brain – called stereopsis – and can consequently correct their position in the aquarium in real time. This means that their brains allow them to recognise distances. This ‘unusual’ coordination between the eyes and the brain was once thought to occur only in vertebrates.

Source: Science Advances

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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