Dragonfly nymphs rocket forward on jets of water shot out of their bottoms. Oddly enough, their breathing gills are also located where the sun doesn’t shine.
Long before dragonflies take to the skies, baby dragonflies (called nymphs) slowly develop underwater. During this early life stage, dragonflies are one of nature’s underwater assassins with killer skills and fantastical body parts.
Whack! The dragonfly can shoot its alien-looking lower jaw forward in a flash. It does this by boosting the pressure inside its body in the same way you puff out your cheeks.
Tadpoles grow bigger tails when the water’s full of critters that are trying to eat them. They swim faster, and the bigger tails lure bites away from their head and body.
Cope’s gray treefrog tadpoles develop red tails to try to slow down dragonfly nymphs in pursuit — a lastditch effort to stay alive by signaling, “Don’t eat me! I don’t taste good.”
What could be tastier than a tadpole toodling through the water? Whack! The big tadpole’s speed, strength, and slippery skedaddle couldn’t outrun and outwriggle the dragonfly nymph’s ninjalike nabbers.
Angie Daly Morfeld
Nichole LeClair Terrill