What Is a Prehistoric Dragonfly?


Quick Answer

A prehistoric dragonfly was an insect that is estimated to have lived over 300 million years ago during the later Paleozoic period. They were giant insects that resembled modern dragonflies.

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Full Answer

Known as Meganeura, prehistoric dragonflies were one of the largest insects ever lived based on fossil findings, with a wingspan of 2.5 feet. Reaching sizes that were comparable to those of modern seagulls, they were predatory creatures that ate other insects.

Prehistoric dragonflies lived during a time when insects were larger than their modern descendants. Scientists theorize that Meganeura grew larger to absorb excess oxygen levels that swamp forests emitted into the atmosphere. Larger insects like prehistoric dragonflies may have survived as oxygen levels lowered, but they most likely struggled to adapt and failed to compete against other insects.

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