Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Meganeuropsis

Meganeuropsis
A while back we learned about Meganeura, a genus of gigantic Dragonflies that lived around 300 million years ago, back when the oxygen levels were higher and the earth could support insects of tremendous size.

So, it should not come as a shock that there were other huge Dragonflies out there, aside from Meganeura. Enter Meganeuropsis, a genus containing two species that rival the previously mentioned insects in size. (It's also important to note that the two genera occupied different areas. Meganerua in what is now Europe, and Meganeuropsis in the middle United States.)

The two known species are M. permiana and M. americana. They were uncovered in Kansas and Oklahoma respectively, back in 1937 and 1940. M. permiana  may be the largest insect ever, even bigger than the Meganeura species.

Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell just how large these insects were able to get, since the fossils had to have very specific conditions in order to stay preserved, and because the parts themselves were so delicate. In short, it is very rare to find these parts intact, so it can be difficult to determine overall size. The largest preserved wing so far  demonstrates a nearly 2.5ft wingspan (the fossil currently resides at Harvard).

Status : Extinct for 250 million years
Location : North America
Size : Length up to 17in (43cm), Wingspan up to 28in (71cm)
Classification : Phylum : Arthropoda -- Class : Insecta -- Order : †Meganisoptera
Family : Meganeuridae -- Genus : Meganeuropsis

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