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Ocean-Crossing Dragonflies Discovered 95

grrlscientist writes "While living and working as a marine biologist in Maldives, Charles Anderson noticed sudden explosions of dragonflies at certain times of year. He explains how he carefully tracked the path of a plain, little dragonfly called the Globe Skimmer, Pantala flavescens, only to discover that it had the longest migratory journey of any insect in the world."
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Ocean-Crossing Dragonflies Discovered

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  • Re:Impressive... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @12:26AM (#30679000) Homepage Journal

    True but at least in the case of the sailplane (or albatross) you need control authority to steer out of sink and into lift which does take energy. In the case of an insect I can't see it having sufficiently low drag to take advantage of lift. To do that you need to be able to put your nose down and fly out of sink sometimes.

  • Re:Impressive... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by oldhack ( 1037484 ) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @12:31AM (#30679024)

    Now here is a science story makes me say "wow".

    Chasing the rain seasons... wonder if they make use of the same seasonal trade wind that kept the ancient maritime trade going around the Indian Ocean?

  • by icegreentea ( 974342 ) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:45AM (#30679428)
    This is really cool stuff. It reminded me of some stuff I read before of locust swarms migrating across the Atlantic from Africa to the Americas. But in that case, evidence (a shit load of dead locust washing onto shore) suggested that locust kept dying and the rest of the swarm ate their corpses for fuel and/or used their dead bodies as 'islands'. Just remember that the largest locust swarms are in the billions and cover hundreds of square kilometers on land...

    Anyhow, here's a linky to a National Geographic article (it also suggests the original American populations of locusts were immigrants from across the ocean).
  • Re:Impressive... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @10:59AM (#30682408) Homepage

    I seem to remember dragonflies semi-regularly keep one pair of their wings stationary during flight. Perhaps they also sometimes fly with both not-flapping? Certainly there's an airfoil.

    Generally they are highly agile, capable of incredible feats for such simple nervous system - for example, during pursuit of their pray, they supposedly follow a "camouflaging" flightpath; first one which makes them stationary in relation to the scenery, from the point of view of the pray! Afterwards, when closer, they become stationary in relation to the prey, its eyes.

    I expect dragonflies can still surprise when it comes to their flying capabilities. They were perfecting it (active predators and all...) since before there were dinosaurs.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.