We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Meganeura?

Michael Anissimov
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Meganeura was a genus of dragonfly-like insects that lived during the late part of the Paleozoic era, during the Carboniferous and Permian periods. It includes the largest known flying insect species, including Meganeura monyi, Meganeura americana, and Meganeuropsis permiana, a closely related species. These so-called "griffinflies" had wingspans of more than 75 cm (2.5 ft). Some griffinflies persisted into the Triassic and possibly the early Triassic period.

Meganeura and its relatives are considered griffinflies rather than dragonflies because they derive from a different lineage, despite evolutionary convergence and similarity. Meganeura and its relatives are part of order Protodonata, which means "primitive dragonfly." They are not considered true dragonflies because they lack several distinctive features found in dragonflies. For instance, the vein pattern on the front and back wings of Meganeura is almost the same, in contrast to modern dragonflies which have vein patterns that very.

Meganeura means "large veins," a reference to the thick network of veins which supported its wings like a skeleton, also providing oxygen. Meganeura was an obligate carnivore, and besides having its pick of practically any other insect, it also ate small amphibians and other vertebrates. Frequenting the edges of ponds, streams, and other watercourses, Meganeura would have used its long legs to grasp prey and hold on to it. The legs were covered with small spines to prevent escape. Once caught, the griffinfly would have killed and consumed its prey with large, sharp mandibles.

Meganeura fossils have been found in France, the UK, Oklahoma, and other locales. In asking how Meganeura got to be so large, scientists have speculated that oxygen may be responsible. There were greater oxygen levels than today in the forests of the Carboniferous, which would have made it easier for insects to absorb oxygen from outside and keep themselves running. However, recent studies have found that insects may in fact have some mechanism of breathing, and hence would not entirely depend on ambient oxygen levels to survive. Other factors may be responsible for the lack of dragonfly-like predators of this size in the modern world.

The great size of Meganeura is a testament to the effectiveness of the basic dragonfly body plan. Modern dragonflies are actually the best insect fliers, capable of reaching speeds of 70 mph with excellent maneuverability, but the size of Meganeura makes it unlikely that it was this fast. It was still likely very fast and deadly.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated All The Science contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism to his articles. An avid blogger, Michael is deeply passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. His professional experience includes work with the Methuselah Foundation, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Lifeboat Foundation, further showcasing his commitment to scientific advancement.
Discussion Comments
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated All The Science contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology...
Learn more
All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.