Aerial Engineering and Physics of the Dragonfly | The Institute for Creation Research
Aerial Engineering and Physics of the Dragonfly
Dragonflies (order Odonata) are perhaps one of the most studied and appreciated insects in the world today. Like the hummingbird, the dragonfly is a master in the art of flight. New research has only increased the sheer amazement one has for this four-winged wonder.1

The latest dragonfly investigation involves how Cornell University scientists have “untangled the intricate physics and neural controls that enable dragonflies to right themselves while they're falling.”2

The zoologists discovered that the chain of righting mechanisms began with the remarkable eyes of the insect that can receive 200 images per second. 

The dragonfly’s optics are also amazing, with almost its entire head composed of visual sensors loaded with engineering that’s only beginning to be understood. It has very complex eyes constructed of individual visual sensory units called ommatidia. A single compound eye has an integrated lens system containing up to 30,000 ommatidia. Each individual ommatidium collects its own stream of visual information that’s transmitted to the dragonfly’s brain, where it’s decoded and processed to form a mosaic image with intricate visual depth and detail.3

From the information gained via its incredible optics, neural signals are generated and transmitted to the dragonfly’s wings, all in a fraction of a second. 

That visual cue triggers a series of reflexes that sends neural signals to the dragonfly's four wings, which are driven by a set of direct muscles that modulate the left-wing and right-wing pitch asymmetry accordingly. With three or four wing strokes, a tumbling dragonfly can roll 180 degrees and resume flying right-side up. The entire process takes about 200 milliseconds.2

Clearly, the engineering ability of a winged insect to control its flight in milliseconds comes from the mind of an all-wise Creator. 

"Flight control on the timescale of tens or hundreds of milliseconds is difficult to engineer," [Jane Wang, professor of mechanical engineering and physics in the College of Arts & Sciences] said. "Small flapping machines now can take off and turn, but still have trouble remaining in the air. When they tilt, it is hard to correct. One of the things that animals have to do is precisely solve these kinds of problems."2

The various animals do not “solve these kinds of problems” of course. The Lord Jesus has designed all animals including the flight of the dragonfly with the innate ability to correct potential problems.

Is such split-second modulation that requires “complex mathematical modeling to understand the mechanics of insect flight” the result of chance and time—or purpose and plan? 

1. Wang, Z. et al. 2022. Recovery mechanisms in the dragonfly righting reflex. Science. 376: 754.
2. Dragonflies use vision, subtle wing control to straighten up and fly right. ScienceDaily. Posted on May 13, 2022, accessed May 22, 2022.
3. Tomkins, J. Intricate Animal Designs Demand a Creator. Creation Science Update. Posted on June 28, 2019, accessed May 22, 2022. 

 *Dr. Sherwin is Research Scientist at the Institute for Creation Research. He earned an M.A. in zoology from the University of Northern Colorado and received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Pensacola Christian College.
The Latest
Volcanoes on Mars??? | The Creation Podcast: Episode 58
Geologic activity shows signs of youth not just on our planet, but all throughout the universe. As we discover more about our solar system and the...

The Brain’s Amazing Ability of Visual Perception
Scientists will never fully understand the brain’s operation.1,2,3 As neurological research continues, it will only reveal more...

Continuous Environmental Tracking : An Engineering-Based Model...
Purpose The Institute for Creation Research is engaged in our biggest science initiative in the last two decades, and it could be our most important...

CET: Testing the Cavefish Model
Staff Writer Purpose The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) is testing an engineering- based model of rapid biological adaptation called...

Original Biochemistry in Fossils
Purpose In 1997, paleontologist Dr. Mary Schweitzer accidentally stumbled upon what appeared to be blood vessels and blood cells from a T. rex...

Debunking an Iconic Uniformitarian Ice Age Theory
Purpose The Milankovitch, or astronomical, theory holds that the timing of Ice Ages is controlled by slow changes in Earth’s orbital and...

ICR and Explaining the Ice Age
by Larry Vardiman, Ph.D., and Michael J. Oard, M.S.* Purpose There is strong geological evidence for an Ice Age, so the Institute for Creation...

Planetary Magnetism
Purpose In 1971, Dr. Thomas Barnes publicized a then “trade secret” of scientists studying the earth’s magnetic field, which...

Cosmology Research
Purpose Taking the Hebrew text of Scripture at face value without inserting gaps or revising the meanings, the universe is only about 6,000 years...

The Coconino Sandstone: Water, not Wind
Purpose The Coconino Sandstone is one of the most well-known formations in Grand Canyon. The blond-colored sandstone, just three layers down from...