Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why Were Prehistoric Insects Huge?

Date:
August 8, 2007
Source:
Midwestern University
Summary:
Researchers have discovered one reason why insects were once dramatically larger than they are today. "More than 300 million years ago, there was 31 to 35 percent oxygen in the air," according to the lead researcher. "That means that the respiratory systems of the insects could be smaller and still deliver enough oxygen to meet their demands, allowing the creatures to grow much larger."

Michael Quinlan, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Physiology (left) and Alexander Kaiser, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Physiology, discuss their beetle research projects.
Credit: Stephen Allen Photography

Alexander Kaiser, Ph.D., of Midwestern University’s Department of Physiology, Division of Basic Sciences, was the lead author in a recent study to help determine why insects, once dramatically larger than they are today, have seen such a remarkable reduction in size over the course of history.

Related Articles


“There were hundreds of ideas to explain the small size, but none of them could be proven,” Dr. Kaiser said. To test their theory that it was an insect’s respiratory system that limited its size, he and his colleagues launched an extensive study using beetles and fruit flies.

The study, much of which was performed at Illinois’ Argonne National Laboratory, involved the examination of various beetles’ respiratory systems, using new x-ray beam technology to help determine how they breathe.

Findings show that Dr. Kaiser and his colleagues are on the right track in their theorizing. Insects breathe through a network of air filled tubes that deliver oxygen directly to the cells. These tracheal tubes, especially in the leg, take up more room in larger beetles.

“More than 300 million years ago, there was 31 to 35 percent oxygen in the air,” Dr. Kaiser said. “That means that the respiratory systems of the insects could be smaller and still deliver enough oxygen to meet their demands, allowing the creatures to grow much larger.”

Dr. Kaiser and his team plan to conduct similar studies in the future using more ancient species such as dragonflies, since beetles and fruit flies are considered relatively “new” species in comparison.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Midwestern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Midwestern University. "Why Were Prehistoric Insects Huge?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 August 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070806112323.htm>.
Midwestern University. (2007, August 8). Why Were Prehistoric Insects Huge?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070806112323.htm
Midwestern University. "Why Were Prehistoric Insects Huge?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070806112323.htm (accessed March 4, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Buzz60 (Mar. 4, 2015) The Australian Museum has taken in its fourth-ever goblin shark, a rare fish with an electricity-sensing snout and &apos;alien-like&apos; jaw. Mike Janela (@mikejanela) takes a look. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prince William Calls for Unified Effort Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

Prince William Calls for Unified Effort Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Mar. 4, 2015) Britain&apos;s Prince William pledges to unite against illegal wildlife trade on the final day of his visit to China. Rough cut - no reporter narration Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare Goblin Shark Found in Australia

Rare Goblin Shark Found in Australia

AFP (Mar. 3, 2015) A goblin shark, a rare sea creature described as an &apos;alien of the deep&apos; is found off Australia and delivered to the Australian Museum in Sydney. Duration: 01:25 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kenya President Sets Fire to 15 Tonnes of Elephant Ivory

Kenya President Sets Fire to 15 Tonnes of Elephant Ivory

AFP (Mar. 3, 2015) Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta set fire to a giant pile of 15 tonnes of elephant ivory Tuesday, vowing to destroy the country&apos;s entire stockpile of illegal tusks by the year&apos;s end. Duration: 01:06 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins