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Smart Engineering in the Mid-Carboniferous: How Well Could Palaeozoic Dragonflies Fly?

Science  23 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5389, pp. 749-751
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5389.749

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Abstract

The wings of archaic Odonatoidea from the mid-Carboniferous of Argentina show features analogous to “smart” mechanisms in modern dragonflies that are associated with the agile, versatile flight necessary to catch prey in flight. These mechanisms act automatically in flight to depress the trailing edge and to facilitate wing twisting, in response to aerodynamic loading. The presence of similar features suggests that the earliest known odonatoids were already becoming adapted for high-performance flight in association with a predatory habit.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: r.j.wootton{at}exeter.ac.uk

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