The largest known dragonfly has a wingspan of over 70 centimeters and belongs to the genus Meganeuridae, according to new research published in Royal Society Open Science. The giant insect lived during the Jurassic period and is one of only six known fossil specimens from that time period. Researchers believe that this newly discovered specimen was able to fly with such a large wingspan because it had comparatively small hind legs for its size. This suggests an unusual flight style when compared with today’s dragonflies, which typically use their hind legs as stabilizers when they flap their wings.
Meganeuridae is an extinct family of giant dragonflies that includes the largest known insects, with wingspans occasionally reaching 80 cm (31 in.). The name comes from the Greek words meganeura, meaning “large front”, and eidos, “form”. They lived during the Jurassic Period (200-145 million years ago). – Insects use their hind legs as stabilizers when they flap their wings.
The fossilized specimen was discovered in the Crato Formation of Brazil and is around 130 million years old. It has a wingspan of 71 centimeters (28 in.) which makes it longer than most birds at the time. Researchers believe that this large size allowed it to fly even though its hind legs were comparatively small for its body size, suggesting a different style of flying from what we’re used to seeing with modern-day dragonflies.
“This is one of the largest insects that we know existed,” said the University of Alabama at Birmingham paleontologist David S. Jones, “It raises the question of why are modern dragonflies so small.”