A new study led by researchers at Trinity College Dublin has found that animals' perception of time is dependent on the pace at which they live it.

The team found that the rate at which time is perceived varies from animal to animal.

The research, details of which have been published in the international journal Animal Behaviour, showed that animals with small bodies are able to perceive more information in a unit of time.

As a result, they experience time more slowly than large-bodied animals with a slow metabolism.

This is why flies, for example, are able to avoid being swatted by humans, because they observe motion on a finer timescale than human eyes can.

In contrast, the researchers also reference a species of tiger beetle that runs faster than its eyes operate, requiring it to stop periodically to allow it reappraise the location of its prey.

The ability of athletes in various sports to speed up the abilities of their eyes so that they can track a moving ball has also been demonstrated.

Assistant Professor at the School of Natural Sciences in TCD Prof Andrew Jackson said: "Ecology for an organism is all about finding a niche where you can succeed that no-one else can occupy.

"Our results suggest that time perception offers an as yet unstudied dimension along which animals can specialise and there is considerable scope to study this system in more detail.

"We are beginning to understand that there is a whole world of detail out there that only some animals can perceive and it's fascinating to think of how they might perceive the world differently to us."

The ability of different animals to perceive time differently is due to the critical flicker fusion frequency - the maximum speed of flashes of light that an individual can see before the light source is perceived as constant.

The researchers used this phenomenon to explain the different abilities of animals to perceive time and showed the most agile animals have the best ability to see time at high resolutions.