There are insects flying through our gardens that date back to before the age of the dinosaurs and incredibly, in all that time it has hardly changed. They are of course, the dragonflies.
Much larger than the damselfly, the dragonfly is at the top of the insect food chain. A voracious predator, dragonflies dart through the air chasing after smaller flies, midges and indeed smaller members of the dragonfly family.
There are many different species of dragonfly in the UK. They range from dull browns to bright blues and greens. One of the most common is the Common Darter, which is scarlet red in the male.
Although our dragonflies today are large, they are nothing compared to their ancestors. 300 million years ago in the Carboniferous period, Meganeura was the true king of the skies.
With a wingspan of 65 cm, the same as that of an eagle, this was a top predator and incredibly was almost exactly the same as our dragonflies, it was only the size that was so different.
It is thought that a higher concentration of oxygen in the air allowed invertebrates to grow so big in this time period. Having a lower concentration today, invertebrates are limited to how big the can grow.
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