As a parody of the super soldier questions and as an efficient way of organizing these questions I will now start this series of questions about Pseudo-Arthropod Primates.

Questions from later questions relating to this thread:

Exoskeleton Mimicking Armour Plating

Mouth Parts

As an overview of what these creatures exactly are: well, they aren't any more related to arthropods than you or me. Just think of armadillo armor placed on primates to make a humanoid arthropod look alike.


Given that dragonflies are some of the best fliers in the animal kingdom: what muscle system would be required to make dragonfly-like wings on a human?

As an explanation on where these wings come from on a vertebrate: you know your rib cage? Well, some freaky lizards have these extended rib cage. Make them dragonfly-wing shaped along with bat wing membrane and you got what I'm talking about.


  • The muscles can't produce too much heat to cook the organism from the inside
  • Need to be only take up half of the body and no more
  • Needs to produce powered flight that looks close enough to dragonfly flight (only needs to look like it though, it can be much slower)
  • Can't make the creature weigh more than 300lbs, preferably 260lbs (don't give me that crap about it couldn't possibly work because it's too heavy because the terrifying bird Argentavis magnificens actually exists)
  • Needs to produce decently elegant flight patterns - not exactly like the common dragonfly, but more like it's relative Meganeura
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Dragonfly wings wouldn't work on a primate because of the difference in how air behaves at different scales. At the dragonfly scale, it's almost like a syrup, thick and heavy. Dragonfly wings expect high resistance relative to the mass of the creature, and would not provide lift in the minimal resistance at primate scales. $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Apr 29, 2018 at 2:59
  • $\begingroup$ @pojo-guy I only need them to resemble dragonfly wings and dragonfly flight, anything else can be changed for the scale of the creature $\endgroup$
    – Amoeba
    Apr 29, 2018 at 4:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ this addresses the center of mass + control issues, but your creature will still be a soarer rather than a flapper. $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Apr 29, 2018 at 5:30
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Pondering ... You may need to revise your original parameters, and read this: materialstoday.com/biomaterials/news/… $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Apr 29, 2018 at 18:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @pojo-guy Then I'm curious to know how the large insects in past epochs took flight, since some of them resembled today's much smaller dragonflies. $\endgroup$
    – ani ben
    May 2, 2018 at 20:14

1 Answer 1


Not an entomologist, so there's your grain of salt. I also don't specialize in creature design, but after a little research I found some info on the muscular structure of insect wings.

Bottom line: you're going to fall into many of the same problems with shoulder structure as other ideas for multi-limbed humaniods/primates.

So, to begin with, insects fall into two different classes when it comes to wings: those with direct flight muscles, and those with indirect flight muscles. Dragonflies fall into the first class, so that's what I'll be focusing on. as you can see at this link


you're going to need at least two muscles per wing (I think the dots in the center are vestigial). One is attached to the top of the wing's pivot point, and one is attached to the bottom.* On your creature, the top would correspond with the part of the wing's base that faces the spinal column, and bottom corresponds with the side facing away from the spinal column. Each muscle is individually innervated and contracts multiple times per nerve impulse received.


That's what gives dragonflies more control over their flight than most insects. You can see an animation of this here


Now, in a dragonfly, these muscles anchor to the interior of the carapace opposite the wing. In a primate, that would mean going through the ribcage to anchor to the front of it - which potentially gets in the way of the heart and lungs.

Depending on how much power you want these muscles to have, you could evolve scapulae that cover more of the animal's back, with another set of processes like the scapula's spine,


except running vertically instead of horizontally, to give the muscles points to anchor to. This would also move your wings toward the center of the back, away from the arms.

However, I suspect that this will still only work for relatively small primates, such as tamarins, marmosets, and/or tarsiers.

I'd recommend looking over the Anatomically correct multiarmed humanoids post for more information.

*I'm not sure what the "bar" that runs from wing to wing across the back is, so I didn't reference that in my answer. It seems like the muscle that pulls the wing up is actually pulling on that, but since the wings can operate independently of each other, that doesn't make a lot of sense. If anybody knows for certain, I'd appreciate a comment.


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