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Air's oxygen content constrains insect growth

From Virginia Beach, Va., at a meeting of the American Physiological Society

The size to which insects grow is limited by how much oxygen they can route to tissues in their legs, new airway measurements suggest.

The researcher knew that some insects grow particularly large when reared in high-oxygen laboratories and that massive insects that lived during the prehistoric Paleozoic period vanished.

Researchers have long suspected that the big bugs of the Paleozoic period could grow large because each milliliter of atmosphere then carried nearly twice as much oxygen as it does today (SN: 12/17/05, p. 395: Available to subscribers at Changes in the Air).

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