Scientists revealed which animals perceive time fastest

Some animals perceive changes 300 times a second.
Nergis Firtina
Species such as blow flies and Dragon flies were able to detect changes at the highest rate
Species such as blowflies and dragonflies were able to detect changes at the highest rate

British Ecological Society 

New research from the University of Galway finds outs that animals that can fly or are marine predators have the quickest perception of time.

The study results will be presented today at the British Ecological Society's annual meeting in Edinburgh by Dr. Kevin Healy.

As stated by the British Ecological Society (BES), the study, which is the largest of its type to date, examined the rate at which more than 100 animals experience temporal perception, or the ability to track changes in the environment. The scientists discovered that animals with active lifestyles have visual systems that can quickly pick up changes.

They can see changes 300 times a second

Species such as blowflies and dragonflies could detect changes at the highest rate, with a vision that could handle 300hz (able to see changes 300 times a second), significantly faster than humans, which can see at 65hz. In vertebrates, the fastest eyes belonged to the pied flycatchers, which could see at 146hz. Salmon clocked in at 96hz and Dogs at 75hz. The slowest eyes belonged to the crown-of-thorns starfish at 0.7hz.

"Having fast vision helps a species perceive rapid changes in the environment. Such detailed perception of changes is very useful if you move quickly or need to pinpoint the trajectory of moving prey," explained Dr. Kevin Healy.

Scientists revealed which animals perceive time fastest
The researchers found the slowest eyes belonged to crown-of-thorns starfish at 0.7hz.

"By looking at such a wide range of animals, from dragonflies to starfish, our findings show that a species' perception of time itself is linked to how fast its environment can change. This can help our understanding of predator-prey interactions or even how aspects such as light pollution may affect some species more than others," he also added.

An unexpected finding

Unexpectedly, the study discovered that many terrestrial predators perceive time more slowly than aquatic predators.

"One unexpected finding from the research is that many terrestrial predators have relatively slow time perception compared to aquatic predators," Dr. Kevin Healy stated.

"We think this difference may be because, in aquatic environments, predators can continuously adjust their position when lunging for prey, while in terrestrial environments, predators that lunge at prey, such as a jumping spider, are not able to make adjustments once they've launched."

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Because it requires a lot of energy and is constrained by how rapidly retinal cells in the eye's retinal neurons can recharge, not all animals have the ability to perceive time swiftly. Animals whose vision does not require quick changes use this energy for other purposes like growth or reproduction.

Flickering light experiments

This study's analysis used data gathered from various studies that employed trials with flickering lights to test time perception. Each experiment used electroretinograms, specialized instruments, to determine how quickly an animal could detect the pace at which light was flashing while simultaneously recording the rate at which the optic nerve transmitted information – this is the critical flicker fusion frequency.