Animals' Perception Of Time
Last year, you might remember the pictures that went around the world of a murmuration of starlings around Mullingar, Co Westmeath. It was absolutely astonishing. Thousands upon thousands of starlings, dashing and swooshing through the air, at breakneck speed, and in the most intricate formations you can imagine! And what's astonishing to the human eye is the fact that they can achieve such incredible speeds, in such vast numbers, and never crash into each other! How do they manage it?
And what about flies? How do they manage to buzz around your kitchen, with all those obstacles, and never crash into anything? And obstacles include the rolled up newspaper you use to try to swat the little critters!
The reason is that animals like flies and starlings, and in truth animals of all kinds, perceive time and motion in a completely different way to human beings. We might wonder how the fly avoids a rolled up newspaper. But the fly can probably see it coming a mile away! And at a much slower speed than we can perceive.
It's an amazing phenomenon, and it's been explored in depth by Kevin Healy. Kevin is a PhD student at the School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, and he is the lead author of a study exploring time perception in animals.
To read the full paper, visit www.sciencedirect.com.