Saturday, October 1, 2011

Largest insects that ever lived

The largest insects that ever lived are members of the extinct dragonfly-like order Protodonata, which means “early dragonfly.” The name “griffinfly” has been proposed for members of this order because important differences distinguish them from modern-day dragonflies. Protodonata’s fossil record ranges from the Late Carboniferous to the Late Permian periods of the Paleozoic era. This was about 300 million years ago, before the dinosaurs, which evolved during the Mesozoic era.

The largest known species is the Late Permian Meganeuropsis permiana, with wingspans longer than 75 cm (30 in. or 2.5 ft) and an estimated weight of over 450 g (1 lb.), similar to a crow. This is larger than any insect that has ever lived, land- or air-based – the heaviest insect today is the larval stage of the Goliath Beetle, with a top weight of 115 g (4.1 oz). As the Late Carboniferous Meganeura is a species of similar size to Meganeuropsis and is much better known, the information in this article will primarily focus on Meganeura.



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