High Oxygen Levels Spawn Monster Dragonflies [sci-tech]

[Wired] Biologists have grown super-size dragonflies that are 15 percent larger than normal by raising the insects, from start to finish, in chambers emulating Earth’s oxygen conditions 300 million years ago.

The research, presented Nov. 1 at the Geophysical Society of America’s annual meeting in Denver, Colorado, provides more support to the idea that big ancient animals and high-oxygen concentrations weren’t coincidental. It may also offer an instrument to help gauge Earth’s ancient atmospheric conditions.

“No one has been successful growing dragonflies under controlled laboratory conditions before, at least to my knowledge,” said paleobiologist John VandenBrooks of Arizona State University, leader of the work. “This has allowed us to ask the question, ‘how have oxygen levels through time influenced the evolution of insects?’”

During the Paleozoic era, around 300 million years ago, huge dragonflies zipped around with wingspans stretching more than two and a half feet, dwarfing modern relatives. Back then, however, the planet’s atmosphere had roughly 50 percent more oxygen than today.

Picture Source: [Liberal Debutante]

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