Three hundred million years ago, the largest insect ever known to humankind hunted in fern jungles and boasted an enormous wingspan of nearly 2.5 feet. Different from modern dragonflies in its size and other attributes, the Meganeura earned the title "prehistoric griffinfly" from scientists. The first Meganeura fossil, discovered in 1880, eventually led researchers to a group of mega-insects, including Meganeuropsis permiana and other massive dragonflies. These creatures hunted prey using their enormous eyes, toothed mandibles, and sharp legs.
This insect was only one of many massive prehistoric creatures. But atmospheric differences and a lack of flying predators allowed Meganeura to rule the skies for millions of years. Unlike other exotic insects that evolved defensive coloring to hide, Meganeura used its size to dominate prehistoric swamps.
But what caused the ancient insect to go extinct? Scientists still disagree.