Saturday, 2 March 2013

Fuxianhuia Who?

Who has heard of fuxhianhuiid? 

In 1995, an article about fuhianhuia gave a thorough description of their morphology. However, just this week scientist uncovered a spectacularly well-preserved specimen of
fuxhianhuiid. The structural qualities of this arthropod could help to shed light on the biological development of arthropods over time. And, from a quick glance we can see the stunning resemblance in morphology to several common present
arthropods, namely the dragonfly...

Dead Leaf Butterfly
Arthropods are members of the largest phylum (Arthropoda) in the animal kingdom. They make up over 80% of the Earth's species. As such a large group it is easy to see how they would have staggering diversity and adaptability among their members. The range in arthropod environmental adaptableness means that they are not limited to one particular environment. The extreme flexibility in this phylum has enabled them to propagate every liveable environment on this planet. They range from the terrestrial like most spiders, to the aquatic like the horseshoe crab (also known as the "living fossil") and roam the skies like the dead leaf butterfly. Some like the dragonfly live in all three environments...

The dragonfly is one of the most intriguing of the bunch since it inhabits all three of the planet's ecosystems. Most of the dragonflies we see as humans are adults in the final stages of their lives. However, their history on earth is one that dates back hundreds of millions of years. As a ravenous predator the dragonfly is a great population controller for various insects—mosquitoes are at the top of the list. They are also ecological markers for the health of a particular environment. Although we may not think that dragonflies require conservation efforts for the preservation of their species there are several ecological reserves around the world. These ecological reserves help preserve dragonfly populations that are being decimated as a result of habitat destruction through deforestation and pollution.

As I work on Beautiful Creatures, I am exploring these ecological themes, in addition to several other ideas, through the construction of various characters that the main protagonist, the dragonfly, will encounter through his or her life cycle. Dragonflies are mainly solitary creatures that maintain no parental involvement with their offspring. As such, each arthropod that our central character will meet will impart valuable knowledge so that they can make their way to their final migratory destination. There are numerous roles up for grabs and casting is just beginning with a few key players... 

Feel free to comment below if there are any characters that you think would be crucial to contributing, or even hindering, our dragonfly’s journey.

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