That’s the not-at-all-fishy finding by scientists who led a study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.
The thing about the study that popped out like, well, an object in a 3D movie was how the scientists tested their hypothesis: by gluing Velcro near their cuttlefish subjects’ eyeballs and then sticking on custom-made 3D goggles, with one red and one blue filtered lens.
That wasn’t easy, admitted lead author Trevor Wardill, an assistant professor of ecology, evolution and behavior at the University of Minnesota.
“It took a lot of coaxing of the cuttlefish to make them wear their glasses,” Wardill told CNN. “They’ll want to play with it.”
Once the cuttlefish got a little hungry, the scientists showed them 3D video featuring two shrimp silhouettes, each a different color and a different distance from the camera, to see if they’d react, according to The New York Times.
Turns out, the cuttlefish have do have depth perception, like humans do. In some cases, they’d sidle up so close to the video shrimp their tentacles would hit the screen itself.
“I was ecstatic. We were sort of jumping up and down,” Wardill told the Times, adding that the cuttlefish would immediately be given real shrimp as a reward.
Although the study shows cuttlefish can see in 3D, they don’t do it in the same way as humans (and not just by spilling buckets of popcorn when an image comes straight at you).
Contrary to their name, cuttlefish are not actually fish. They’re marine mollusks, related to squid and octopuses, and are probably the world’s most intelligent invertebrates.
“While cuttlefish have similar eyes to humans, their brains are significantly different,” Paloma Gonzalez-Bellido, assistant professor at the University of Minnesota, said in a university press release. ”We know that cuttlefish brains aren’t segmented like humans. They do not seem to have a single part of the brain — like our occipital lobe — dedicated to processing vision. Our research shows there must be an area in their brain that compares the images from a cuttlefish’s left and right eye and computes their differences.”
The research didn’t explore whether cuttlefish might be interested in other 3D movies, like the upcoming “Avatar” sequels.