By Pieter van Dokkum
The publication starts on a moonlit summer time evening, whilst an alien-looking larva crawls out of the water and transforms right into a totally shaped dragonfly. within the following chapters we witness dew-covered dragonflies gleaming within the morning sunlight, then a couple of mating dragonflies relocating in the course of the air in a twelve-legged, eight-winged dance. within the ultimate bankruptcy, one new release dies because the subsequent prepares to depart the water and start its personal winged trip. every one degree is documented via van Dokkum’s inquisitive lens and observed via info on a variety of species of dragonflies and damselflies, their metamorphosis, and their ecological significance as insect predators.
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Additional info for Dragonflies: Magnificent Creatures of Water, Air, and Land
There they still are, clinging to a stem or a leaf, awaiting the first rays of the morning sun. Do dragonflies sleep? At night they are motionless, with all bodily functions greatly diminished. Because the physiology of insects is so different from that of mammals, scientists are reluctant to describe this state as sleep, and have settled on the word “torpor” instead— although an observer would be forgiven for thinking that a dew-covered dragonfly on a cold morning is fast asleep. When the sun comes up, the dragonfly will rub its eyes, removing the dew.
This photo shows a detail of the wing of a Calico Pennant, covered in dew. 42 a n e x c e l l e n t d e s i g n Side view. Dragonfly wings are not flat but have a complex corrugated structure with ridges and valleys. This improves the stiffness of the wings and possibly also provides extra lift during flight. a n e x c e l l e n t d e s i g n 43 44 a n e x c e l l e n t d e s i g n Not for walking. Dragonflies have six long and powerful legs, equipped with barbs along their length and ending in a sharp hook.
The dragonfly is in the same illustrious group and is thought to be one of the first flying animals, appearing in the fossil record some 300 million years ago. The wingspan of some species reached an astonishing two and a half feet, probably owing to higher oxygen levels in the atmosphere and the absence of predators such as birds. These ancient giants were the largest insects that ever lived. If their nymphs were still around today we would probably think twice before going in the water! Like all insects, dragonflies and damselflies have an external skeleton and six legs arranged in three pairs.