(ORDO NEWS) — The researchers assessed the speed at which different animal species perceive environmental changes.
The record holders were small flying creatures – flies and dragonflies among insects and flycatchers among vertebrates, as well as marine predators. Among the studied species, time flows the slowest among starfish.
Scientists from the National University of Ireland in Galway compared for the first time how 100 species of animals, differing in body size, habitat and lifestyle, perceive time.
Temporal perception is measured as the speed with which the body can fix and process the changes taking place in the world.
The analysis used data collected from numerous experiments measuring the perception of time using flickering light.
At the same time, the speed at which the optic nerve sent information to the brain was recorded.
Blowflies and dragonflies have become record holders for detecting changes at the fastest speed: their vision allows them to process changes at a frequency of 300 hertz, that is, to fix them 300 times per second.
For comparison: a person perceives the world with a frequency of only 65 hertz. Among vertebrates, the most “fast” eyes were found in the birds of the mottled flycatcher, in which the perception frequency was 146 hertz.
Salmon eyes, as it turned out, “work” at a frequency of 96 hertz, and dogs – 75 hertz. The slowest eyes belonged to a starfish – only 0.7 hertz.
Quick perception is useful for fast moving species and those that need to track complex prey trajectories. In addition, the perception of time is related to how quickly the environment can change.
This result helps to better understand predator-prey interactions and even why light pollution can affect some species more than others.
One of the unexpected results of the study was that many terrestrial predators have a relatively slow perception of time compared to aquatic ones.
According to scientists, this difference is due to the fact that in the aquatic environment, predators can constantly adjust their body position, rushing for prey, while in terrestrial environments, animals can no longer make adjustments after they make the jump.
Fast temporal perception is also energy intensive and is limited by how quickly retinal neurons can recharge. Animals that do not require fast vision use this energy for other needs such as growth or reproduction.
Differences in the perception of time also exist within the same species. This is true even for humans: some studies have shown that football goalkeepers see changes more quickly than normal people, and that coffee can temporarily increase the frequency of perception by a small amount.
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