Male Bowerbirds Use a Clever Optical Illusion to Woo Mates

By Eliza Strickland | September 9, 2010 3:00 pm

bowerbird-bowerFrom Ed Yong:

Right from its entrance, Disneyland is designed to cast an illusion upon its visitors. The first area – Main Street – seems to stretch for miles towards the towering castle in the distance. All of this relies on visual trickery. The castle’s upper bricks and the upper levels of Main Street’s buildings are much smaller than their ground-level counterparts, making everything seem taller. The buildings are also angled towards the castle, which makes Main Street seem longer, building the anticipation of guests.

These techniques are examples of forced perspective, a trick of the eye that makes objects seem bigger or smaller, further or closer than they actually are. These illusions were used by classical architects to make their buildings seem grander, by filmmakers to make humans look like hobbits, and by photographers to create amusing shots. But humans aren’t the only animals to use forced perspective. In the forests of Australia, the male great bowerbird uses the same illusions to woo his mate.

Read the rest of this post at Not Exactly Rocket Science.

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Image: Current Biology / John Endler

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