Dragonflies of the World

Jill Silsby, Michael J. Parr

Published by Smithsonian, 2001
ISBN 10: 1560989599 / ISBN 13: 9781560989592
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Synopsis: In Dragonflies of the World Jill Silsby provides a comprehensive worldwide guide to the order Odonata, describing the unique attributes of dragonflies in general and the distinctive features of individual families and subfamilies. The book contains full-color photographs of more than three hundred species, all of which are identified by both their scientific and common names.

Review: In this handsomely illustrated volume, entomologist Jill Silsby and a team of colleagues introduce readers to the little-explored world of dragonflies and their damselfly cousins, the order Odonata.

The odonates, Silsby writes, are among the oldest of the earth's living creatures, ancient even by the age of the dinosaurs. That they have survived while so many other species of the time did not hinges on several adaptations, including the development of large compound eyes, wings that move independently of one another, and a highly streamlined body shape, all of which have made odonates "superb hunting machines." Strictly carnivorous, dragonflies are also wide-ranging--some species have been known to travel across oceans--and are found in most parts of the world; one family, the Synlestidae, or sylphs, are distributed throughout southern Africa, Australia, China, and the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, but, strangely, nowhere in between. (For all its ubiquity, though, the dragonfly figures little in the world's art, literature, and mythology.) But all 6,000 species of dragonflies depend on one habitat in particular that is becoming ever more rare: clean, usually slow-moving bodies of water. The volume closes with a consideration of conservation measures that are needed if the odonates are to survive beyond the present age, including the establishment of protected areas worldwide.

A pleasure to read and constantly informative, this compendium makes a welcome addition to any nature buff's collection. --Gregory McNamee

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Title: Dragonflies of the World
Publisher: Smithsonian
Publication Date: 2001
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: New
Edition: 1.

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