Temporal range: Artinskian
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Meganisoptera
Family: Meganeuridae
Genus: Meganeuropsis
Carpenter, 1939
  • M. americana
  • M. permiana Carpenter, 1939

Meganeuropsis is an extinct genus of griffinfly, order Meganisoptera, known from the Early Permian of North America, and represents the biggest known insect of all time. Meganeuropsis existed during the Artinskian age of the Permian period, 283.5–290.1 mya .[1] The genus includes two described species:

Meganeuropsis permiana described in 1939 from Elmo, Kansas. It was one of the largest known insects that ever lived, with a reconstructed wing length of 330 millimetres (13 in), an estimated wingspan of up to 710 millimetres (28 in), and a body length from head to tail of almost 430 millimetres (17 in).[2]

Meganeuropsis americana, discovered in Oklahoma in 1940, is most probably a junior synonym of Meganeuropsis permiana.[3][4] It is represented by a forewing fragment 280 millimetres (11 in) long, which is conserved and displayed in the Harvard Museum of Natural History; the complete reconstructed wing had an estimated total length of 305 millimetres (12.0 in), making it the largest insect wing ever found (with a resulting wing span of 690 millimetres (27 in)).[5]


  1. ^ Penney, D. and Jepson J. E. (2014): Fossil Insects: An introduction to palaeoentomology. Siri Scientific Press, 224 pages: page 79.
  2. ^ Mitchell, F.L. and Lasswell, J. (2005): A dazzle of dragonflies Texas A&M University Press, 224 pages: page 47. Google Books
  3. ^ Zessin, W. (2008): Überblick über die paläozoischen Libellen (Insecta, Odonatoptera). Virgo, 11(1): 5-32 PDF
  4. ^ Grimaldi, D.A. and Engel, M.S. (2005): Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge University Press, 755 pp. Google Books
  5. ^ "Dragonfly: the largest complete insect wing ever found", Harvard Magazine November–December 2007:112. PDF