|“||Meganeura is a monster dragonfly, rulers of the Carboniferous skies. With a wingspan of almost a meter, they're the size of an eagle with an appetite to match.||„|
|— Allen, describing Meganeura|
Meganeura (name meaning "Large-Nerved"), also called the Giant Dragonfly, is a genus of very large dragonfly that originated during the Carboniferous Era in what is now North America and Europe. With a wingspan measuring up to 75 cm, these eagle-sized dragonflies are described as the "rulers of the Carboniferous skies". The high oxygen level in the Carboniferous period allowed this creature (and many others) to grow to a very large size. Like modern dragonflies, Meganeura was carnivorous and ate lizards and other prey.
In the Series 1 episode "Arthropod Swamp", a couple of Meganeura were brought back to the park from the Carboniferous 300 million years ago. They reside in the Bug Dome.
Era & DiscoveryEdit
Meganeura lived in North America and Europe during the Carboniferous period, 350-280 million years ago, ruling the skies of the Carboniferous and sharing the environment with reptiles, giant amphibians, and other giant insects. They died out when the oxygen level went down by the end of the Carboniferous.
Fossils were discovered in the French Stephanian Coal Measures of Commentary in 1880. In 1885, French paleontologist Charles Brongniart described and named the fossil "Meganeura" (large-nerved), which refers to the network of veins on the insect's wings.
Meganeura was physiologically very similar to a modern dragonfly, but larger. Measuring almost a meter long, Meganeura was the size of an eagle, making it one of the largest insects that ever lived and the largest dragonfly of all time. High above their Carboniferous kingdom, normally they were invincible.
These dragonflies could fly faster than modern-day dragonflies, which can fly at 30 miles per hour. They also have superb eyesight, as 50% of their head is eye. When Meganeura shivered their wings, that meant they were warming up for a fight. In addition, like with Arthropleura, the males and females were different. While both of them had gossamer wings and red eyes, the males had light blue chitin whereas the females had yellow chitin with green dots all around.
Behavior & TraitsEdit
Meganeura was a very fast aerial predator, using its arms and mandibles to shred prey, typically other insects, or perhaps smaller vertebrates such as lizards or amphibians. It was extremely acrobatic, capable of making sudden mid-air turns, and dodging streams of water. When it came to males having a fight, they could stop immediately and spin around on a sixpence.
In groups, Meganeura gathered around fragmented lakes to breed and lay their larvae in the water. Males competed for mating rights with females, but could not determine and individual's sex without getting very close. Like modern dragonflies, Meganeura could achieve speeds that a human would be unable to resist. When it comes to mating, and if they found a female, the males grabbed hold with claspers at the front and the mating would start.
- Meganeura is the largest and only prehistoric dragonfly to be brought to the park.