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Insect behaviour

Motion camouflage in dragonflies


Most animals can skilfully conceal themselves when stationary1, but they may become apparent as soon as they move. Here we use stereo cameras to reconstruct the movements in three dimensions of dragonflies (Hemianax papuensis), and show that these insects actively use motion camouflage to disguise themselves as stationary during territorial aerial manoeuvres. Deployment of this sophisticated technique by the oldest airborne predator tricks the victim's retina into perceiving the stalker as stationary even while it darts about in pursuit.

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Figure 1: Examples of active motion camouflage.

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Correspondence to Akiko Mizutani.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Mizutani, A., Chahl, J. & Srinivasan, M. Motion camouflage in dragonflies. Nature 423, 604 (2003).

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