Meganeura, Prehistoric Dragonfly With 2.5 Feet Wingspan
Before the age of mammals there was the age of dinosaurs and other reptiles, and before that, there was the Paleozoic, which was the age of insects. It was a different world where the largest land animals were smaller rather than larger than they are today. Among the largest of these ancient insects were giant dragonflies. Although small compared to many of the animals of later times, these so-called "griffin flies" were up to 2.5 feet wide, some of the largest insects to have ever existed. Such large insects do not exist today in part due to the lack of oxygen in the air, which there was much more of in the past. Another reason for the lack of existence of very large insects may be that large predatory birds could easily outcompete them.
The giant dragonfly was discovered in 1885 when it was called Meganeura. A slightly larger type of giant dragonfly was discovered in the United States in the middle of the twentieth century. Other species of insects, such as cockroaches, were also much larger in the remote past. The giant dragonfly did not last for long enough to coexist with birds, as it quickly became extinct after flying reptiles appeared and were able to outcompete it. By studying the fossils of these creatures, researchers have recently discovered that they would hunt in a way similar to the hawks of today.
Do giant insects still exist today? Some people do report sightings of them, but giant insects are not commonly talked about by cryptozoologists. It may be true that the largest insects that still exist today are the stick-shaped insects that are up to 50cm long. Unusually large beetles and butterflies are also known to exist but do not exceed 20cm in length or wingspan. The ecology of hundreds of millions of years ago remains mysterious and is left for future researchers to discover.