Radstock Giant Dragonfly

In 1912 a fossilized fragment of a giant dragonfly was found in a piece of shale on the waste-tip of Tyning Colliery near Radstock. The specimen was sent to Dr Herbert Bolton a leading authority on fossil insects and at the time the director of the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. At the time Bolton recognised it as being a Species unknown to science, and also the largest insect fossil, flying of otherwise, to be found in the British Isles. He named it Meganeura radstockensis. However, later examination of the specimen by Anton Handlirsch, a German palaeontologist revealed that it was different the Meganeura in certain respects. He then renamed it Boltonites radstockensis in honor of Dr Bolton.

The Radstock giant dragonfly had a wing span of 40 cm (16 in), However a related species Meganera monyi from Commentry in central France had a wing span of 60 cm (24 in) These giant dragonflies probably lived on smaller insects; they may have caught them in glades in swampy forests that were wide spread during carboniferous times.

Herbert Bolton (1863-1936)

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Author: Andre Butler
Last updated: 20th November 2005
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Websites produced by students on the MSc Palaeobiology programme in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol for academic year 2005-6