Record-Setting Bug Is Bigger Than Your Hand

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The largest aquatic insect ever documented -- boasting scary-long mandibles and jumbo-jet wings -- has been discovered in China.

Local villagers in the country's Sichuan province came upon several specimens of the creature, which resembled a large dragonfly, and brought them to the Insect Museum of West China.

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It turns out the villagers had made an incredible entomological find: a record-setting giant dobsonfly with a wingspan of more than 8 inches.

The find was bad news only for the poor South American helicopter damselfly, which was bounced from its previous place atop the largest-aquatic-insect hill when its wingspan of "only" 7.5 inches was bested.

The dobsonfly itself is not exactly a shocking creature to witness. There are more than 200 species of it worldwide, and they make a living in parts of Asia, South America and Africa. What is shocking it the size of the new find: dobsonflies of similar size had until now been unheard of.

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The long, pincerlike mandibles are used for mating -- males use them to impress the ladies and hold them in place during the mating. Its wings, meanwhile, hardly ever see any use, as the bug spends most of its life under or on top of water, or laying low underneath rocks.

The giant dobsonfly can be a great barometer of water cleanliness. No slob, it has a preference for clean water that's relatively free of pollutants and a "goldilocks" pH level that's not too high or low. The big-winged bug will simply pack up and change addresses if a body of water doesn't meet its exacting standards.

via CNN, PhysOrg

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