Thursday, December 4, 2008

THE DRAGONFLY

The sight of a dragonfly on the wing is one of the more remarkable that nature has to offer. Here,take a look at the life cycle of the dragonfly as well as its remarkable and unusual physiology.

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The gorgeous colors of a dragonfly - these majestic insects of the air have been a source of inspiration - and fear - to people for thousands of years. The order to which they belong is called Odonata. Many people regularly go ‘oding' just as others go birding or butterfly collecting. Their life is cycle as unusual as their looks are striking.

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A pair of Yellow Striped Hunters starts the circle of life with a liaison of gymnastic prowess. With their multi-faceted eyes, a double pair of wings and an athletic and graceful looking elongated body it is no wonder that dragonflies are held in awe by a number of cultures. They are valued by farmers all over the world, as well as those inspired by the beauty of nature, as they help control the numbers of insects that can be harmful to crops.
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Their eyes are made up of several thousand individual units known as photoreceptors. What they see combines the input from their eye units known as ommatidia. These are located on the convex surface of the eye and each points in a slightly different direction to its neighbor. In this way, these compound eyes have an extremely large view angle. This means that the dragonfly is able to detect the movement of its prey incredibly quickly. If humans wanted the same eyesight then we would have to grow compound eyes that were as large as our heads.

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The wings may look fragile to the human eye but they are incredibly strong. They are incredibly fast, versatile and can maneuver in ways that we can only imagine. The control that they have is such that they can seem to change direction in an instant.

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