The Order Odonata is divided into three groups: Anisoptera (dragonflies), Zygoptera (damselflies) and Anisozygoptera (a relict group represented by only two living species). One species located in both Japan and the Himalayas. This is an extremely diverse order with about 5000-6500 different species.
The characteristics of the modern dragonflies have not changed much from their ancient ancestors, except for their size. This is evident throughout the fossil record. There are many distinguishable features about dragonflies, which separate them from the rest of the insect world. Dragonflies have very long slender bodies, narrow wings, huge eyes and a strong jaw for eating prey. They come in an array of colors, and are usually located near a water source.
|To the left is a picture of a modern of dragonfly species from the Anisopetera group. Note the shorter body lenght compare to the Zygopetera group shown below.|
|To the right is a picture of a brilliantly blue colored damselfly. A member of the Zygopetera group.|
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