A flying Paradise tree snake in Tenom, Borneo. photo: Jack Socha/BBC
Supernature Wild Flyers Defying Gravity airs on WSKG TV June 29, 2016 at 8pm. Explore the basic principles of flight to see how animals become airborne. From leapers to gliders, each creature has special techniques, but all must overcome the force of gravity. The sky is one of the world’s most challenging places to live, but across the planet an extraordinary range of animals do something we can only dream of – take to the air.
The body and wings of the dragonfly Pantala flavescens have evolved in a way that lets the insect glide extraordinary distances on weather currents. Credit: Greg Lasley
A dragonfly barely an inch and a half long appears to be animal world’s most prolific long distance traveler – flying thousands of miles over oceans as it migrates from continent to continent – according to newly published research in the journal PLOS ONE. Biologists at Rutgers University found that populations of this dragonfly in locations as far apart as Texas, eastern Canada, Japan, Korea, India, and South America, have genetic profiles so similar that there is only one likely explanation. Apparently, these insects are traveling extraordinarily long distances, and they are breeding with each other, creating a common worldwide gene pool that would be impossible if they did not intermingle. “This is the first time anyone has looked at genes to see how far these insects have traveled,” said Jessica Ware, senior author of the study.