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Motion Camouflage

Camouflage Dragonflies have a unique way of camouflaging themselves, enabling them to sneak up on their prey in a way that makes them seem stationary even though they are in fact moving closer. This trick, known as motion camouflage, was initially discovered during observations of the mating tactics of male hoverflies tracking females. Upon spotting a female, the male hoverfly appeared to shadow her, maintaining a distance until she landed, at which point the male would move in swiftly and mate with her.

As shown in a study done by Dr. Aikiko Mizutani of the Australian National University in Canberra, the dragonfly achieves this by adjusting its position in order to always occupy the same spot in its prey's retina. This makes it look stationary while it is actually moving and fooling its prey. This technique requires precise flight control and positional sensing. It has long been suspected that male dragonflies and other flying insects employ this behavior during aerial combats.

Dr. Mizutani and his team used two video cameras to track dragonflies and worked out 15 three-dimensional flight trajectories of interactions between dragonflies. Out of 15, six showed clear cut evidence of active motion camouflage.

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