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Do you see what I see? It seems ponies do

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Ever wonder how animals see the world?

New research suggests mammals, at least, see the world the same way we do.

Japanese and French researchers recently reported the eye view of ponies, dolphins, chimps, and humans are surprisingly similar.

“Mammals have adapted to a variety of natural environments, ranging from underwater to land to tree canopies,” said lead author Masaki Tomonaga of Kyoto University. “They also rely on vision to varying extents. Humans… rely heavily on their sense of vision. On the other hand, other mammals like horses have evolved to have a wide visual field, but with less acuity than ours — we wanted to investigate what it was that other mammals were seeing.”

In the study, the researchers showed three ponies (Ponyo, Nemo, and Thomas) two shapes on a large touchscreen, with one arbitrarily chosen as correct. The ponies received a carrot piece as a reward when they tapped their muzzle on the “right” answer.

The shapes the ponies chose as similar were then compared to those chosen by dolphins, chimpanzees, and humans in other studies. All four mammals thought the same sort of shapes were similar.

“It’s remarkable that mammals, even with these differences in physical appearance and living environments, evolved to have the same sort of visual perception,” Tomonaga said.

The next step for Tomonaga and his team is to understand how animals interpret what they see.

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