"Give me control of the planetary oxygen supply, and I'll grow bugs in any size you want", redux.

Raising giant insects to unravel ancient oxygen

The giant dragonflies of ancient Earth with wingspans of up to 28 inches are generally attributed to higher oxygen atmospheric levels in the atmosphere in the past. New experiments in raising modern insects in various oxygen-enriched atmospheres have confirmed that dragonflies grow bigger with more oxygen, or hyperoxia. [...] The team raised cockroaches, dragonflies, grasshoppers, meal worms, beetles and other insects in atmospheres containing different amounts of oxygen to see if there were any effects. One result was that dragonflies grew faster into bigger adults in hyperoxia.

"The dragonflies were the most challenging of the insects to raise," said VandenBrooks because, among other things, there is no such thing as dragonfly chow. As juveniles they need to hunt live prey and in fact undergraduate students had to resort to hand feeding the dragonflies daily. "Dragonflies are notoriously difficult to rear," said VandenBrooks. "We are one of the only groups to successfully rear them to adulthood under laboratory conditions."

Sadly, it sounds like they didn't actually grow giant dragonflies, they just got dragonflies that grew to adult-size faster. But this is an important first step!

Previously, previously, previously.

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3 Responses:

  1. pne says:

    Sadly, it sounds like they didn't actually grow giant dragonflies, they just got dragonflies that grew to adult-size faster. But this is an important first step!

    I interpret the quote "dragonflies grew faster into bigger adults" to mean that not only was the size increase faster, but the end size was greater, too.

    So they did grow, if not giant, at least larger-than-normal dragonflies.

  2. ultranurd says:

    How long until the article reads "As juveniles they need to hunt live prey and in fact we had to resort to hand feeding undergraduate students to the dragonflies daily."?

  3. thrax99 says:

    Here's a description of the research from VandenBrooks' lab. (I couldn't find the paper.)
    http://jharrison.faculty.asu.edu/research_atmospheric.html

    They are also studying cyborg insects with DARPA funding.