Resting on a rush tip Dragonfly surveys the landscape. And I can see it’s all about the eyes. Those huge spheres that see all around, all at once. Dragonflies are something of an enigma and we are only now beginning to unlock some of their mysteries, but much we will never know because we simply don’t have the senses they have.
We see with three ‘opsins’ or types of receptor. One each for red, green and blue. These three colour receivers enable us to see in millions of colours, all created by a combination of red, green and blue. Many insects have four or five. The fourth seeing ultra violet light and the fifth polarised light to make sense of and through reflections on water (or so it is thought).
Dragonflies have between a dozen and thirty different opsins and we may never know what they ‘see’ with them. We have no way of knowing what we are looking for. However there is a big clue that they are all firing and feeding information to the being in that fully eighty percent of the dragonflies brain is dedicated to visual inputs.
To further confound us a dragonfly can take in, process and act on three hundred pieces of visual information a second. Human brains can only cope with a paltry fifty. Life for a dragonfly passes by six times slower than for us. It’s no surprise they have lightning fast reactions.