How does your pet see the world? Incredible videos reveal how animals perceive their


If you’ve ever wondered what the world looks like through your pet’s eyes, science can finally show you. 

These incredible new videos show how animals perceive their surroundings. 

Scientists have developed cameras and software that let us look through the eyes of different creatures.  

And they reveal a technicolour world that is otherwise hidden from human sight. 

From the UV glow of a caterpillar to how a bird sees your sunscreen, this footage shows the world in a way no human has seen it before. 

Scientists have developed a method for creating videos that show the world as different animals would see it. Here the researchers have used their equipment to show what flowers would look like to a honeybee. The petals glow far brighter than they do to the human eye, appearing bright and clear

Scientists have developed a method for creating videos that show the world as different animals would see it. Here the researchers have used their equipment to show what flowers would look like to a honeybee. The petals glow far brighter than they do to the human eye, appearing bright and clear 

Scientists have long understood that animals have different sets of colour receptors in their eyes. 

These combinations of photoreceptors let every animal see a different spectrum of the light that bounces off objects.

So, while humans are especially good at seeing green colours, other animals might be better at distinguishing shades of red or blue.

Some animals, like honeybees and certain birds, even have photoreceptors that can pick up ultraviolet light beyond the human visible spectrum. 

Researchers from the University of Sussex and the Hanley Color Lab at George Mason University have now developed tools to record videos that match these unique views. 

To demonstrate the tool they focused on birds and bees, but say it could be used to create the perspective of any animal with a similar enough visual spectrum.

That means it could potentially be used to recreate a dog’s, cat’s, or even fish’s eye view of the world. 

Since birds see into the ultraviolet spectrum, the sky actually appears 'UV-blue' which is shown here as purple. The video also reveals how the wings of a northern mockingbird flash with white as they reflect UV

Since birds see into the ultraviolet spectrum, the sky actually appears ‘UV-blue’ which is shown here as purple. The video also reveals how the wings of a northern mockingbird flash with white as they reflect UV

The northern mockingbird may appear grey and white to humans, but in the eyes of other birds these new videos reveal its feathers flash with light beyond the human visible spectrum

The northern mockingbird may appear grey and white to humans, but in the eyes of other birds these new videos reveal its feathers flash with light beyond the human visible spectrum 

This unique video technique reveals some amazing details about the way that animals view the world.

In one clip the researchers show how a forest would appear to a bird.  

The sky, seen through ‘avian vision’, is a bright shade of purple because it is actually predominantly ‘UV-coloured’ rather than blue.

The authors, writing in PLOS Biology, say: ‘While the sky may appear blue to our eyes, it would appear UV-blue to many other organisms.’ 

In the same clip, you can also see bright flashes of white on the wings of a northern mockingbird which are caused by the reflection of UV light. 

It might look like this researcher has covered themselves with yellow paint but that is actually sunscreen seen through the eyes of a honeybee. Since sunscreen is designed to absorb UV light, it does not appear white to animals that can see that part of the spectrum

It might look like this researcher has covered themselves with yellow paint but that is actually sunscreen seen through the eyes of a honeybee. Since sunscreen is designed to absorb UV light, it does not appear white to animals that can see that part of the spectrum 

In addition to birds, this research also lets us imagine the world from the perspective of bees who can see the entire human range of colour and UV light. 

Bees use these sensitive colour detection receptors to find flowers which often have intricate markings only visible in the UV spectrum. 

To demonstrate just how differently a bee sees the world, the video shows one researcher crouching in front of some flowers which appear bright yellow and red.

The researcher then applies sunscreen which, to a human, would appear white.

But through the eyes of the bee, it looks like the researcher is covering themselves in yellow paint.

The sunscreen only appears white to humans because it reflects light evenly across the visible spectrum.

Yet because sunscreen absorbs harmful UV rays it appears brightly coloured to animals that can see those frequencies of light. 

Here the researchers show how their camera can capture tiny details like the veins of this leaf and the two leaf-footed bug eggs which are only 2mm in diameter

Here the researchers show how their camera can capture tiny details like the veins of this leaf and the two leaf-footed bug eggs which are only 2mm in diameter 

The real breakthrough of this technology is the ability to capture details through an animals-eye-view in real time and in the natural environment. 

Using a technique called spectrophotometry, scientists can measure how much light an object reflects to infer what it would look like to a given animal.

But this is a slow process that has to take place under controlled laboratory conditions, meaning it can’t capture animals as they move naturally.

Daniel Hanley, senior author of the research, says: ‘We’ve long been fascinated by how animals see the world.

‘Modern techniques in sensory ecology allow us to infer how static scenes might appear to an animal; however, animals often make crucial decisions on moving targets.’

To honeybees and other animals, flowers have far more colours than humans can see. In the main picture, you can see flowers and butterflies as a honeybee while in the bottom right corner, you can see how this would appear through human vision

To honeybees and other animals, flowers have far more colours than humans can see. In the main picture, you can see flowers and butterflies as a honeybee while in the bottom right corner, you can see how this would appear through human vision 

For example, the researchers show the anti-predator display of a black swallowtail caterpillar.

To the human eye, this would look like a green caterpillar with black and yellow markings revealing an orange horn-like structure.

But to any passing honeybee, this would be a riot of UV colour.

The markings on the caterpillar glow strongly and its ‘horns’, called the osmeterium, flash brightly with UV light.

The authors write: ‘Many predators of caterpillars perceive UV, and accordingly, this coloration might be an effective aposematic [warning] signal.’ 

The researchers hope this technology will allow researchers and filmmakers to reveal how animals interact through their own eyes. By showing real-time interactions like the anti-predator display of this black swallowtail caterpillar we can better understand how animals navigate the world

The researchers hope this technology will allow researchers and filmmakers to reveal how animals interact through their own eyes. By showing real-time interactions like the anti-predator display of this black swallowtail caterpillar we can better understand how animals navigate the world 

The videos are created by taking two commercially available cameras and mounting them into a 3D-printed rig.

A beam-splitter separates light into visible and UV spectra, sending one to each camera.

The videos are then recombined using software which processes the raw data ‘perceptual units’ to create a reconstruction of animal vision.

In tests against laboratory techniques, this method predicted perceived colours with 92 per cent accuracy.

The researchers hope this technique will help future researchers understand how animals navigate the world around them. 

But they say that it could be used by filmmakers to better capture the world of nonhuman animals. 

ANIMALS SEE USING COMPLEX STRUCTURES IN THEIR EYES

Animals, including humans, have a variety of complex structures in their eyes which allow them to see.

The pupil contracts to limit how much light is allowed in, much like a camera lens.  

Most animals have both cones and rods in their eyes, which are called photoreceptors and are found in the retina. 

Cones allow people to see colour and rods are sensitive to low-light levels which allows for a grey scale between black and white.  

Humans, and many other animals, have three types of cones which each absorbs different wavelength of lights. 

With short, medium and long wavelength cones, the range of cones allows for a range of vision which incorporates the visible light spectrum.

This includes colours between red and blue – wavelengths ranging between 390 an 700 nm.

Other species, including many birds,  have four cones instead of three in a mutation known as tertrachromacy. 

This allows for animals to see light of an unusually short wavelength, which is normally considered to be UV light. 

These photoreceptors are triggered by light and then this produces an electrical signal as they change shape. 

Electrical signals are then carried to the brain via the optic nerve. 

Signals from both optic nerves are then brought together by the brain at  a point called the optic chiasm where the brain compares the two images.

This is what gives animals an understanding of depth and how far away objects are in their field of vision.  



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