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Notes on the Insane Biology of Dragonflies

What can we learn from the incredible biology of dragonflies?

most animals succeed at the hunt <60% of the time


a dragonfly is an odonate -- extinct ones had 70cm wingspans


dragonflies have muscles that directly connect to their wings


phased stroking is used for forward flight -- at 50km/h


dragonflies can fly backwards


pterostigma acts as a counterweight to flight


can see orange to ultraviolet


fly close to water for higher contrast for prey against a blue sky


dragonflies play tracking to predict prey


humans can learn interoception ^d31494


less oxygen, smaller animals


dinosaurs may have outcompeted larger dragonflies

On Coal Forests

Huge dragonflies lived off of higher O2 air content

Coal forests were the vast swathes of wetlands that covered much of the Earth's tropical land areas during the late Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian) and Permian times.[1][2] As vegetable matter from these forests decayed, enormous deposits of peat accumulated, which later changed into coal.
Much of the carbon in the peat deposits produced by coal forests came from photosynthetic splitting of existing carbon dioxide, which released the accompanying split-off oxygen into the atmosphere. This process may have greatly increased the oxygen level, possibly as high as about 35%, making the air more easily breathable by animals with inefficient respiratory systems, as indicated by the size of Meganeura compared to modern dragonflies. (View Highlight)
big dragonfly for scale.png

When Buying Bread in the Grocery Store

In this case, green means “stop” and red (and orange and yellow) means “go.” Red, orange, and yellow signal sweetness and desirability to your brain, a concept that food marketers have long known about and employed. Next time you are in the snack food aisle in the supermarket, check out the packaging and signage and you’ll see that both forms of marketing are dominated by these warm colors. (Location 266)
We do not picture spirits dancing among brightly-lit supermarket aisles, no matter how bountiful the fruit is there. The fluorescent glow of warehouse lights and repetitive linoleum floors do not seem a good match (View Highlight)
When I do eat bread in the United States, it makes me feel bloated, but I have no such reaction with white bread made with yeast when I am in Europe. That’s because yeast ferments and destroys the lectins in wheat, taming their effects. And guess what? In France and Italy, where bread is produced by traditional yeast-rising techniques, almost all the bread is white, not whole wheat. It contains gluten, which has been digested by the yeast, but no WGA. Would it surprise you then to learn that sourdough bread, made by fermenting wheat with bacteria and yeast, consistently ranks as one of the safest and least injurious breads, in terms of blood sugar spikes? The bacteria and yeast together “eat” the lectins and a good deal of the sugars! (Location 860)
Remember this story when you peruse the sell-by date of any commercial bread or cracker or snack product. If the date isn’t the day it was manufactured, then the product for sure contains BHT or another similar deadly preservative. There are many reasons you want to avoid BHT—among (Location 881)

Plants Are Sirens

The mother plant relies on animals to eat the seeds before they fall to the ground. The objective is to have their babies wind up some distance away from the mother plant, so that they don’t have to compete with it for sun, moisture, and nutrients. This increases the species’ chances of survival while also broadening its range. If the swallowed seed remains intact, it emerges from the animal along with a nice dollop of poop, to boost its chance of sprouting. (Location 242)

Squirrels are similar with accidentally planting trees by forgetting where they put a acorn in the ground. Plants are like sirens in the Odyssey, and their cardinal aim is to entice small woodland creatures with their siren song.

This is especially true for carnivorous plants!


The Slow Acting Poison of Lectin

Because their initial predators were insects, plants developed some lectins that would paralyze any unfortunate bug that tried to dine on them. Obviously, there is a quantum size difference between insects and mammals, but both are subject to the same effects. (If you are suffering from neuropathy, take notice!) Clearly, most of you won’t be paralyzed by a plant compound within minutes of eating it, although a single peanut (a lectin) certainly has the potential to kill certain people. But we are not immune to the long-term effects of eating certain plant compounds. Because of the huge number of cells we mammals have, we may not see the damaging results of consuming such compounds for years. And even if this is happening to you, you don’t know it yet. (Location 214)
quantum size difference between insects and mammals

These days maybe, look at the fossil record of dragonflies though 202301032147

…single peanut (a lectin) certainly has the potential to kill certain people

are all plant allergens lectins?

THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE is the mucus in your nose and saliva in your mouth, collectively called mucopolysaccharides (meaning many sugars). Guess what those sugars are there for? To trap lectins. Remember, lectins like to bind to sugars. The next time your nose runs after eating spicy foods, you’ll know that you’ve just eaten some lectins. That extra dose of mucus not only traps the lectins you just ate but also adds an additional coating to your esophagus as your meal works its way down. (Location 415)

Cyanobacteria First Mover Advantage

#ExplosiveGrowthTip 4: First-mover advantage is useless if the timing isn’t right. Have you thought about ideas, products, or features that failed in the past—simply due to being too early—that may work now? (Location 365)
If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late
Reid Hoffman
kairos (Ancient Greek: καιρός) is an ancient Greek word meaning 'the right, critical, or opportune moment'. In modern Greek, kairos also means 'weather' or 'time'.
It is one of two words that the ancient Greeks had for 'time'; the other being chronos (χρόνος). Whereas the latter refers to chronological or sequential time, kairos signifies a proper or opportune time for action. In this sense, while chronos is quantitative, kairos has a qualitative, permanent nature.The plural, kairoi (καιροί) means 'the times'. Kairos is a term, idea, and practice that has been applied in several fields including classical rhetoric, modern rhetoric, digital media, Christian theology, and science.

Sometimes the right time is bad. Sometimes unlimited growth… is bad.

A positive adaption can have catastrophic impact for a species 202301021404
suffering from success Pasted image 20230109214724.png

The Violence of the Frontal Lobe

Even worse are the black magicians or “computer hackers” who intentionally spread the virus. Think back to a time when you or someone you know was angry with someone else and desired revenge. In order to seek revenge you said something to or about that person with the intention of spreading poison and making that person feel bad about himor herself. As children we do this quite thoughtlessly, but as we grow older we become much more calculated in our efforts to bring other people down. Then we lie to ourselves and say that person received a just punishment for their wrongdoing. (Location 384)
  • crowd mentality takedowns of an individual (cancel culture closer to mob culture)
  • memetic following of a leader who's intentions are many levels removed
  • reactive vs proactive violence in chimps 202301210055 and humans
  • humans are trained in childhood to become non reactive violent species, we instead focus on premeditated violence which is more deadly and intentional


I am glad to be a generally nonviolent human and not an ape: if I were a chimpanzee, I’d spend an appreciable part of my day trying to avoid being beaten up or killed. (Location 2626)


According to Wrangham, humans differ from other animals, especially our ape cousins, in having exceedingly low levels of reactive aggression but much higher levels of proactive aggression. We correspond to Rousseau in terms of reactive aggression and to Hobbes in terms of proactive aggression. (Location 2643)

The Art of Copium

It is very interesting how the human mind works. We have the need to justify everything, to explain and understand everything, in order to feel safe. We have millions of questions that need answers because there are so many things that the reasoning mind cannot explain. It is not important if the answer is correct; just the answer itself makes us feel safe. This is why we make assumptions. (Location 565)
when people experience uncertainty and lack of control, they are more likely to see patterns or regularities where there are none. (View Highlight)
one consequence of this cognitive architecture is that when our predictive potential is limited—that is, when there is high uncertainty—we experience anxiety (View Highlight)
Why do people always make fun of coping like what are folks supposed to do? NOT cope? (View Tweet)

Fascia, Ligaments, and More

Connective tissue has different names depending on its location and function. Ligaments are the fibrous connective tissues that connect bone to bone. Tendons connect muscle to bone. The delicate membranes that envelop your brain and spinal chord are connective tissues called meninges. Bone is a highly mineralized form of connective tissue. The tubing around nerves and blood vessels is made of connective tissue, as are the sheaths around your organs and muscles. This latter type of connective tissue is known as fascia. (Location 992)
  • Ligaments = bone to bone
  • Tendons = muscle to bone
  • Bone = mineralized connective tissue
  • Fascia = around muscles/organs