• Kylie Blair

Species' Perception of Time: Research & Tests


- Source Video Footage, References

- Sketching (Rough and finished)

- Rough Animations

In this independent study, I will explore different perceptions of time as experienced by different species. These perceptions will be explored and visualized through 2D cel animation techniques. I will study how to represent changes over time with similar frame rates, and how an alteration in timing can affect the representation of distinct temporal perceptions. This independent study will allow me to develop my animation skillset, which is pivotal for the work I will undertake as part of my thesis. For my Master’s thesis, I will address the connections between ecology, technology, and humanity. Understanding the relationship between these three subjects is critically important to the future sustainability of life on Earth. The connections between ecology, technology, and humanity may be structured to either increase the profound sense of alienation we experience from the natural world, or stimulate critical thinking about how to develop a more unified relationship with the Earth. My thesis project will deal with changes in an ecology over time, as it explores various perceptions of time and space through multi-species storytelling and interactivity. I will analyze how human perception is not the only perception essential to a symbiotic system; in order to face ecological ruin and the Anthropocene, humans should create an assemblage that includes other types of perception, between themselves, other living beings, matter, and the surrounding environment. My goal is to delineate a multidisciplinary approach to the study and practice of representing the natural world and its deeper systems through art. Therefore, this independent study would supplement my theoretical framework by creating a means of temporal data visualization to create a bridge between our perceptions and experience, and “otherness”.

Source Video Footage, References

Research - Species' Perceptions of Time:

Scientific American: "Small Animals Live in a Slow Motion World"

- "Time seems to pass more slowly for lighter animals with faster metabolisms"

- "A recent study in Animal Behavior reveals that body mass and metabolic rate determine how animals of different species perceive time. "

- "Time perception depends on how rapidly an animal's nervous system processes sensory information. "

- "The scientists hypothesized that the ability to detect incoming sights at a high rate would be advantageous for animals that must perform the equivalent of bullet dodging—responding to visual stimuli very quickly to catch elusive prey or escape predators, for instance."

- "...species that perceived time at the finest resolutions tended to be smaller and have faster metabolisms."

- " A link between time perception, body structure and physiology suggests that different nervous systems have developed to balance pressures from the natural environment with energy conservation. Rapid perception might be essential for a hawk but would waste a whale's precious energy. "

List of animals frame rate per second, from our movement appearing in slow motion to our movement sped up:

- Housefly, 250 Hz

- Pigeon, 100 Hz

- Dog, 80 Hz

- Human, 60 Hz

- Cat, 55 Hz

- Brown Rat, 39 Hz

- Leatherback Sea Turtle, 15 Hz

BBC: Slow Motion World for Small Animals

- "In humans, too, there is variation among individuals. Athletes, for example, can often process visual information more quickly. An experienced goalkeeper would therefore be quicker than others in observing where a ball comes from. The speed at which humans absorb visual information is also age-related, said Andrew Jackson, a co-author of the work at TCD. 'Younger people can react more quickly than older people, and this ability falls off further with increasing age.'"

- "The common European eel, the leatherback turtle, and the blacknose shark had the slowest visual systems. Although the eel and blacknose shark are relatively small, they have slow metabolisms which explains their slow visual systems. The leatherback is a huge turtle that feeds primarily on slow moving jellyfish and has a very slow metabolism itself, so doesn't need to invest in high visual processing equipment."

- "Having eyes that send updates to the brain at much higher frequencies than our eyes do is of no value if the brain cannot process that information equally quickly."

Animal Behaviour: Metabolic rate and body size are linked with perception of temporal information

- "Animals vary in their ability to perceive changes in their environment visually"

- "Temporal perception can be quantified using critical flicker fusions (CFF)"

- "High CFF indicates an ability to perceive rapid changes in the visual field"

- "We show that high metabolism and small body size are associate with high CFF"

- "We argue that these findings have both ecological and evolutionary implications"

- "Body size and metabolic rate both fundamentally constrain how species interact with their environment, and hence ultimately affect their niche. While many mechanisms leading to these constraints have been explored, their effects on the resolution at which temporal information is perceived have been largely overlooked."

- "As both smaller size and higher metabolic rates should facilitate rapid behavioural responses, we hypothesized that these traits would favour perception of temporal change over finer timescales."

- "Our results have implications for the evolution of signalling systems and predator–prey interactions, and, combined with the strong influence that both body mass and metabolism have on a species' ecological niche, suggest that time perception may constitute an important and overlooked dimension of niche differentiation."

- "The ability to integrate information over fine timescales, that is, at high temporal resolution, is thus fundamental to many aspects of an organism's ecology and behaviour. Furthermore, temporal resolution is also directly linked to the perception of the passage of time itself for humans, in particular when tracking fast moving stimuli..."

- "The necessity of this ability to perceive one's environs accurately is perhaps best demonstrated in cases where temporal resolution is too coarse to allow the observer to follow the motion of a moving target accurately."

- "Many of the interspecific and intraspecific interactions that shape species' behaviour and ecology rely on the ability of organisms to process high temporal resolution sensory information. Our results show that, while there is considerable variability in the ability to resolve temporally dynamic visual information across vertebrates, body mass and metabolic rate act as important general constraints on this ability. "

- "The effects of body size and metabolic rate on temporal resolution and the presence of sensory adaptations, as discussed above, also point towards an interesting dimension of niche space. Disparity in size and metabolic rate among species within an ecological setting may select for particular sets of adaptations creating a diverse set of sensory systems and interactions. In such a system, species might occupy the same spatial and temporal niche, but could be separated owing to differential responsiveness to environmental signals and cues as a result of having evolved divergent signalling systems along a dimension represented by temporal resolution."

- "In conclusion, our results show that the evolution of sensory systems, which play a vital role in ecological interactions, is subject to limitations imposed by metabolic rate and body mass over orders of magnitude in scale. Furthermore, deviations from the expected relationship between temporal perception, body size and metabolic rate are predicted to be subject to selection pressures for physiological, morphological and behavioural adaptations that alleviate these constraints. The generality of these findings suggest that temporal resolution may play a much more important role in sensory ecology than previously indicated, in particular because of its universal effects relating to body size."

Fox references:

National Geographic, Red Fox Information:

-"Red foxes live around the world in many diverse habitats including forests, grasslands, mountains, and deserts. They also adapt well to human environments such as farms, suburban areas, and even large communities. The red fox's resourcefulness has earned it a legendary reputation for intelligence and cunning."

- " COMMON NAME: Red Fox

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Vulpes vulpes

TYPE: Mammals

DIET: Omnivores


SIZE: Head and body, 18 to 33.75 in; tail, 12 to 21.75 in

WEIGHT: 6.5 to 24 lbs"

- "Like a cat's, the fox's thick tail aids its balance, but it has other uses as well. A fox uses its tail (or “brush”) as a warm cover in cold weather and as a signal flag to communicate with other foxes."

Nature Canada: Gray Fox

-" Common name: Gray Fox Latin name: Urocyon cinereoargenteus Status under SARA: Schedule 1, Threatened. A 2015 COSEWIC assessment put the species as Threatened. Range in Canada: Manitoba to northwestern Ontario (Kenora), southern Ontario (Windsor) to southeastern Quebec (Sherbrooke). Size: Approximately 1 m long with males weighing an average of 4.2 kg and females 3.9 kg. Population Estimate: Relatively unknown. Based on a few records it is estimated that there are fewer than 110 mature individuals. "

- "The Gray Fox has a shorter muzzle and legs with rounded footprints; it has gray fur with red patches on its neck, sides, and legs and a black stripe down its back – all features that separate it from the Red Fox"

- " A study on the species by the Canadian Field-Naturalist cites historical evidence that the Gray Fox was once a common mammal in southern Ontario and had a wide habitat range prior to European settlement of eastern North America. It disappeared from Canada at this time and only returned in the late 1930s or 40s when US populations began to expand northward.  Although the Gray Fox is still not on any threatened species lists in the United States, the Gray Fox’s population in Canada is precarious and faces a long road to recovery."

- " The Gray Fox is protected by the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), and by Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. This species also receives protection under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act and has had general habitat protection since 2013., though without knowing much about this species and its distribution, such protection is of limited value."

Humane Society: Gray Fox

- "Gray foxes are small, secretive canines, and the only member of that family that can climb trees. They are sometimes mistaken for red foxes, because they have some reddish fur, but gray foxes are noticeably shorter-legged and have a black-tipped tail, instead of a white-tipped tail."

- " Red foxes have white tail tips, throats, and underfur, while gray foxes have black tail tips and yellow or orange coloration on a white throat/underfur.  Red foxes tend to be slightly heavier than gray foxes, and red foxes have slightly longer muzzles than gray foxes.  A few red foxes are black or silver in coloration, which reflects normal genetic variation within the species."

- "Gray foxes are found in habitat with a combination of forest and brushy woodland. Like red foxes, they also live near farmlands bordered by woods and have adapted to living in close proximity to humans. In fact, being near us may reduce predation by coyotes and bobcats. They need to live near water, and they choose habitat with hollow trees or logs, rock crevices, or hillsides they can use for dens."

- "Gray foxes are not currently threatened as a species, but habitat loss requires them to adapt to living closer to human activity than they normally would."

- "It is rare to catch more than a glimpse of a gray fox, though, because they are usually only out from dusk until dawn. They explore at a trotting pace, often through dense cover, pausing only to listen for prey or predators. Keen vision, hearing, and sense of smell help them hunt for cottontails, tree squirrels, voles, mice, wood rats, black rats, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates. By adding fruit and mast to their diet in autumn, they become helpful as seed dispersers."

- " Sometimes a gray fox will rest on a high branch or in the crotch of a tree. To climb trees, they rotate their forearms, enabling them to hug the tree, while pushing upward with their hind legs. Once in the canopy, they are nimble enough to leap from branch to branch. Coming down is a bit trickier than going up… it’s either a slow and careful tail-first descent or, if the angle is not overly steep, a speedy headfirst downward run."

University of Minnesota Duluth: Gray Fox

-" Gray foxes are found locally in extreme southern Canada, in much of the continental U.S. and Mexico, south to northern South America. Gray foxes are absent from portions of the western United States west of Minnesota.  Regionally, gray foxes are more common in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota than in other Great Lakes states.  Populations are threatened in Ontario. "

Gray Fox:

Fox Diving Headfirst:

Tree climbing foxes:

Red Fox Mother and Babies Playing:

Quadruped gaits:

Decomposing Fox:

Human Civilization/camping/building/logging References:

NY Times: Where did the time Go? Do not ask the brain

.... unfortunately the NY times wont allow me to copy and paste quotes...

Smithsonian Mag: How Trees Defined America

- "According to historian Eric Rutkow, the United States would not be the country we know today without the vast forests that provided the growing nation with timber, paper and other resources—and eventually inspired our environmental consciousness. In his recently published book American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation, Rutkow traces the history of the United States through our trees, from the mighty elm in the heart of Boston that would become the Liberty Tree, to California’s giant conifers, which inspired an early generation of conservationists."

- " We have such a material abundance of trees. Trees allowed us to develop this style of aggressive consumption, and this style of immediacy over permanence in how we look at developing the landscape"

- " For most of American history, trees surround us conspicuously. I’m not talking forests and the environment we plant around them, but our homes—you can really see that wood is everywhere. And there’s a shift that happens in the middle of the 20th century, where we’re still depending on wood to build many things, but we start hiding it and processing it. At the same time we start pursuing new legislation to create things like wilderness areas, and to have recreation in forests and national parks. That split is a really interesting development in the American character, the evolution of the idea of the forest as where we go to find spirituality, the forest as where we go to find recreation, the forest as where we go to escape."

Brain Pickings: Why time slows down when we're afraid, speeds up as we age, and gets warped on vacation

- " our experience of time is actively created by our own minds and how these sensations of what neuroscientists and psychologists call “mind time” are created. As disorienting as the concept might seem — after all, we’ve been nursed on the belief that time is one of those few utterly reliable and objective things in life — it is also strangely empowering to think that the very phenomenon depicted as the unforgiving dictator of life is something we might be able to shape and benefit from."

- " We construct the experience of time in our minds, so it follows that we are able to change the elements we find troubling — whether it’s trying to stop the years racing past, or speeding up time when we’re stuck in a queue, trying to live more in the present, or working out how long ago we last saw our old friends. Time can be a friend, but it can also be an enemy. The trick is to harness it, whether at home, at work, or even in social policy, and to work in line with our conception of time. Time perception matters because it is the experience of time that roots us in our mental reality. Time is not only at the heart of the way we organize life, but the way we experience it. "

Tree Growing References:

How a giant tree's death sparked the conservation movement 160 years ago

- "160 years ago a giant sequoia in California was cut down, becoming the inspiration for the national park system"

- "On Monday, 27 June, 1853, a giant sequoia – one of the natural world's most awe-inspiring sights - was brought to the ground by a band of gold-rush speculators in Calaveras county, California. It had taken the men three weeks to cut through the base of the 300ft-tall, 1,244-year-old tree, but finally it fell to the forest floor."

- "Mammoth Tree" and "Mother of the Forest" - name of 2 trees cut down

- " The remarkable, engaging story of these two doomed trees is too detailed to be told here, but what is worth recalling on this anniversary is the reaction their destruction caused in the media at the time – and its subsequent effect on some progressive politicians a decade later when they cited their felling and exploitation as an inspiration to establish what later came to be known as the US national park system."

Cathedral Grove: Trees as Objects of Science

BBC Woodland Timelapse Video

Environment and Style References:

Color Palette


Fox Rough:

Fox Final:

Human Rough:



tree Final:

layout ROUGH:

layout Final:

Rough Animations