The giant dragonfly (Meganeura spp.) was a species of very large dragonfly relative native to the equatorial swamps of the Carboniferous, in what is now the British Isles, Europe, and North America. One is kept in the bug house at Prehistoric Park.
Physical appearance and biologyEdit
The giant dragonfly was physiologically very similar to a modern dragonfly, but larger. It had light blue chitin, red eyes, and gosamer wings. The only unique feature of its anatomy were four appendages on the end of the males abdomen. The significance of these is unknown: Nigel Marven speculates they are used in courtship, for grabbing hold of the female.
Behaviour and traitsEdit
The giant dragonfly 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 midair turns, and dodging streams of water.
Giant dragonflies 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, it could achieve speeds that a human would be unable to resist.
A giant dragonfly is one of the insects Nigel Marven hopes to catch in Carboniferous Scotland. He gets his first sighting of one when he climbs a large tree: one flies above his head, far above the canopy.
When Nigel arrives at the lake he saw from the tree, he finds it swarming with giant dragonflies. He attemps to catch one with a net, but is bitten by an unseen predator, and gives up for the day when he realises night will soon fall. The next morning, he tries again, but finds that the dragonflies are too swift too be captured. He finally uses a water pistol to knock one out of the air, and he manages to catch it in his net.
The dragonfly is taken back to the camp, where Nigel examines it, briefly using it as a fan. When a forest fire starts later on, the dragonfly, along with the giant scorpion, is succesfully taken back to the park. Several other dragonflies are seen fleeing from the fire.
The giant dragonfly is taken to the bug house, where Bob later visits it and the other insects.