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Video proof that dragonflies are nature's ninjas

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This will blow your mind. A good ninja uses speed for evasion as well as pursuit. In this respect, there is perhaps no animal in the world more ninja-like than the dragonfly, as these jaw-dropping videos make abundantly clear.

The dragonfly's remarkable abilities are due in large part to its unique body plan. Unlike many insects, a dragonfly can control each of its wings individually, and four independently maneuverable wings make for one remarkable aerialist. As The New York Time's Natalie Angier explains in this captivating article, dragonflies can "hover, dive, fly backward and upside down," and even pivot 360 degrees with just "three tiny wingbeats." They can also reach top speeds of up to 30mph, and regularly catch prey when they're missing an entire wing.


All of this, Angiers reports, calls attention a little-known fact about dragonflies: they are ridiculously awesome aerial predators. Recent observations have revealed that dragonflies capture their prey in midair more than 95% of the time (that's saying something, considering that their quarry consists primarily of other flying insects), making them perhaps "the most brutally effective hunters in the animal kingdom."

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But there's more informing dragonflies' aerial abilities than a four-pack of clever wings. As Angiers goes on to explain, it is becoming increasingly clear that dragonflies can hear, think, and see in ways that may be unparalleled by other insects. (For instance, researchers recently learned that dragonflies, like humans, are capable of focusing their attention, allowing them to home in on a single target amidst a chaotic cloud of potential kills.) For more videos and information (including why a significant chunk of dragonfly research is funded by the U.S. military), check out her piece in The New York Times. You won't be disappointed.