Meganeura is a member of the Meganisoptera
genera, which is a part of the Protodonata suborder. They were the gigantic
ancestors of the modern dragonfly. In fact this particular genera was the
largest of all. It had a wingspan of 75cm to 1.5 m. The wing veination is
extremely primitive with respect to modern species of the Odonate. All main
veins except one (the Rs vein) had separate origins at the base of the wing. The
characteristics of the true Odonata wing are not developed on this order. Like
modern dragonflies they have long narrow bodies, huge eyes and strong jaws for
The Meganisoptera were transitional between the
Palaeodictyoptera and the Odonata. It is almost certain that larvae were aquatic
and carnivorous as well. And that they feed on small aquatic vertebrates (fish
and amphibians) or large invertebrates.
Only a few families and genera
are known from this group, it appears to have been a small group. Fossil remains
of Meganisoptera are known from the late Carboniferous of France, the early
Permian of North America, the Late Permian of Russia and Australia. And there is
a single record from the Triassic of France. The group may have persisted into
the early Jurassic. And In fact the first fossil of the ancient Odonata came
from the Permian Period. A reason for this groups low numbers in the fossil
record may be that as adults they frequented areas where they would not have
been easily fossilized.
Above is an artists rendition of what Meganeura
looked liked in its natural setting.