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Isophlebia aspasia (Hagen,
1862), female, Upper Jurassic, Solnhofen, Germany, coll. H. Tischlinger
(Stammham, Germany) no. 71/64
courtesy of Günter Bechly, Böblingen,
Germany - http://www.bechly.de/
Dragonflies and damselflies are part of the most ancient group
of insects on the planet. There records date back to the Carboniferous
Period some 300 million years ago, long before the dinosaurs appeared. We
no about these ancient insects through their fossils. As pictured left,
dragonflies of this period were fairly large. Perhaps the most remarkable
of all were the giant dragonflies, Meganeuropsis permiana and their
cousins, with wingspans that reached 2.5 feet long.
No modern day dragonflies, can compare in size with those that
existed some 300 million years ago. Our largest modern day dragonfly
Megaloprepus caertua, from South America has a wingspan slightly over 7
inches. Dragonflies today do not look very different from their
ancestors except maybe for their reduced size. It is guessed that the most
ancient of dragonfly lineages belongs to the Petaluridae, or Petaltail
Family, which has two North American species.
Dragonflies and Damselflies are clearly survivors!