Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Arthropoda
Subphylum Hexapoda
Class Insecta
Order Meganisoptera
Family Meganeuridae
Subfamily Meganeurinae
Genus Meganeura
1st Species Meganeura monyi
2nd Species Meganeura brongniarti
Other attributes
Time Range 305-299 mya
Location France, United Kingdom, Canada
Name Meaning Big nerve
Physical Dimensions 65 centimeter wingspan
Dietary Classification Carnivore

Meganeura is a meganeurid meganisopteran insect arthropod from the Pennsylvanian of France, the United Kingdom, and Canada. It was named in 1885 by Charles Brongniart. It was one of the biggest flying arthropods of all time, thanks to the great conditions of the late Paleozoic era.


Meganeura resembled modern dragonflies. It was an arthropod with a slender body, a large head with big eyes, long antenna, and small jaws, 3 pairs of walking legs, 2 pairs of long wings, and a long tail ending in a clasper. Its body would have been covered in a hard, chitinous exoskeleton.


Meganeura was a predator, preying on reptiles, small amphibians, and smaller arthropods. Its toothed jaws were used for biting into prey, and it had a specialized, flap-like upper lip capable of shooting out to catch its victims.


As a giant insect, Meganeura owed its large size to a lack of aerial predators to prey and/or compete with it, and an evolutionary arms race between it and its prey. In general, it was quite similar to modern dragonflies, being a fast aerial predator that often fed on prey by biting them on the head (knocking them out), carrying them to a perch, and eating them head first; in fact, even the nymphs of this griffinfly were similar to modern dragonfly nymphs, as the mouthparts of both are identical. However, there are many slight difference between the two; for instance, Meganeura had longer legs, wings, antennae, and claspers than modern dragonflies did. Along with this, the wings of Meganeura lacked the gliding cell found in the wings of modern dragonflies, and had a much simpler vein pattern than that of modern dragonfies.

In popular cultureEdit

Due to documentaries and books focusing on prehistoric animals, Meganeura has soared to a great height among popular prehistoric arthropods, only being slightly overshadowed by the diverse and widespread trilobites. Since then, it has been featured in major pieces of media such as such as Prehistoric Park and First Life. So far, its biggest public appearance was in the 2nd episode of the 2005 documentary Walking with Monsters, where it flies in to steal a Petrolacosaurus carcass from the fangs of a giant mesothele spider.

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