World's largest aquatic insect has 8-inch wingspan and 'giant snake-like fangs'
This monster of a bug was recently discovered in a remote area of China's Sichuan province.
Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 03:59 PM
Photo: Insect Museum of West China
The world's largest aquatic insect has been discovered in the remote mountains of China's Sichuan province, and it's terrifying. As Yahoo News reports, this monstrous beastie has a wingspan of about 8.3 inches, but most intimidating are its menacing mandibles, which have been described as "giant snake-like fangs" and look like they could easily dismember a human finger.
The previous title-holder for the world's largest living aquatic insect (by wingspan) was the giant helicopter damselfly, which hails from the Amazon. It has a wingspan of 7.5 inches, but it features a slender body and lacks the forbidding mandibles of the demon just discovered in China, which is a type of dobsonfly.
Experts say that the newly found giant dobsonfly belongs to the order Megaloptera, which also includes the alderflies and fishflies. The positive twist in discovering such a gargantuan specimen is that it's an indication of a healthy, clean watershed in the area. Apparently, the giant dobsonfly's kryptonite is unclean water.
The aquatic critters are "highly sensitive to any changes in the water's pH as well as the presence of trace elements of pollutants," explains CNN. If the water is even "slightly contaminated, the giant dobsonfly will move on to seek cleaner waters."
More good news about these sinister-looking gargoyles is that their mandibles are not made for piercing flesh, but rather for grasping mates. During their adult stage, the insects are basically done eating. Males use their mouth parts for keeping females from wiggling away during the mating process.
Although the giant dobsonfly is an intimidating sort, it's nothing compared to the aquatic insects that ruled the air millions of years ago. Because of higher oxygen levels in the atmosphere around 250 million years ago, insects grew to enormous proportions. Dragonflies with wingspans up to 30 inches were commonplace. If you're an entomophobe, at least be thankful that the giant dobsonfly, a miniature compared to the giants of the past, is as big as modern aquatic insects are likely to get.
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