19 August 2014
Last updated at 15:42
Dragonflies' incredible eyesight allows them to see airborne prey in slow motion. They can complete a hunt - from seeing a moving fly from their perch to capturing it, in just over one hundred milliseconds. BBC film-makers captured slow motion footage of a dragonfly reacting to "prey", by shooting a pea from a pea shooter.
"Dragonflies experience time in a completely different way to us. They have a reaction time of around 30 milliseconds," explains Patrick Aryee, presenter on Super Senses: The Secret Power of Animals. The pea moved too quickly for the human eye but the dragonfly turned its head towards the object "before we see the seed come into frame," says Mr Aryee.
The slow-motion footage showed the dragonfly turning its body and almost taking off in pursuit of the "prey". But it had time to assess that the pea was not a feeding opportunity after all, and stayed on its perch.
"The dragonfly's vision is so quick, it can track the flying object, and work out it's not prey, all in less than five hundredths of a second," said Mr Aryee.
As well as the ability to see things in "slow motion", dragonflies have evolved extraordinary colour vision and can see a wider spectrum of colours than humans. To them, insects in the air cast dark silhouettes against a dazzlingly bright background.
Super Senses: The Secret Power of Animals begins on BBC Two at 21:00 BST on Tuesday 19 August (20:00 BST for viewers in Scotland).
Watch the video clip of the dragonfly's super quick reactions (UK Only).
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