With the breeze of December slowly settling, snowflakes covered the earth’s surface. The sun is nowhere to be found, it comes out but once in a blue moon, making sure habitats of the earth are missing it duly. The weather outside is competing in temperature with my fridge. Who the winner will be, is just a matter of perspective. Houses however, are resplendent with light, providing such sweet glamour, embellishment of bedizens flowers, fancy mistletoes, and fully decked Pine trees- perhaps the only trees around that still maintained their green leaves. These adorations are best Santa could ever wish for his landing party. There I say, Merry Christmas.
I happen to be shrouded in my blanket, as I don’t want to be the arbiter between my fridge and the outside temperature. This indoor attitude of mine has become a signature of laziness – one that I am proud of. Amid this laziness one day, a green insect flew in from the window which I had unknowingly, left partially open. I jumped to see who my visitor was. Behold! It is a Praying Mantis.
I’ve always been scared of things that fly: Birds- especially owls, cockroaches, and virtually all the arachnid family. If you think I’m weird, then way ahead of you; because the English language has names for my problems. They are classified as Acarophobia, Entomophobi and Ornithophobia. The latter is particularly in the fraternity of birds. I was not that scared of birds, but after checking some medieval drawings, my brain bearings became messed up. Perhaps we can talk about these drawings in my next post; perhaps I can manage to screw your thinking too. But until then, our praying mantis.
So after the mantis landed on my PC. I was left in shock, I began praying for it to fly away and leave me in peace. But I guess I am too sinful to compete in prayer with a praying Mantis. I decided to make formidable sounds, hoping to scare the green-life out of the insect, but all to no avail. I continued making various noises, least did I know that praying mantises have no ears- at least not for hearing. The mantis insisted on making my keyboard a family shrine, by inviting a fellow mantis who joined in. Honestly at this point, I am starting to think they are not praying but cursing me, they are invoking the evil spirit of their ancestors to cast a deadly spell on me. Howbeit, instead of getting an insecticide and committing insect genocide, I decided to engage them tete-a-tete, or more appropriately – insects-a-tete. I observed as these animals share some punches between them, each one striking blow for blow. It is no wonder that some species of mantis are called Kung-Fu Mantis. But in general, one thing apparent in these animals is their eyes. Big crystal eyes.
Although Mantis are deaf, interestingly and quite paradoxical they have an awesome vision. Praying mantises are on a whole different level when it comes to vision. They have one of the best visions among all animals. With their staggering five sophisticated eyes, they can see a range of colors unknown to man. Their cousins, however, the mantis shrimp have anywhere from 12 to 16 eyes. But we are not talking about them now. Scientists had done a great deal of research in understanding the vision of the praying mantis, and you will find it astonishingly interesting the length at which these researchers went in attempt to understanding this insect. Not to leave you in suspense, it involves some spectacular spectacles in form of tiny 3D glasses. And boy! They look just cool with their glasses on.
Of the discoveries made regarding the animal. We learnt that they have binocular vision, giving the insects depth perception. They use the left eye to locate an object, and the right eye to calculate its distance, while the other three eyes are located in the middle provide better photoreception. It is noteworthy that mantises can see ultraviolet light, and while we see seven colors in a rainbow, scientist believe mantises see much more than seven. One of them said ‘Where we see a rainbow, the mantis sees a thermonuclear bomb of light and beauty’. While investigating the mantis, researchers placed the insect upside down in front of a computer screen after their glasses have been majestically worn.
The specie of this mantis is Sphodromantis lineola, from Africa, but I don’t care about that now. Checkout the glasses! I will call him James Bond. Or James Mantis. or something cool.
Since mantis cannot see red color, the 3-D glasses are colored differently than the conventional 3-D we use in cinema. Honestly, I prefer this mantis version to the boring human red and blue.
My next post will be about some Medieval drawings, we’ll see if you will still have respect for Leonardo da Vinci after that.