Media Coverage

Ancient Atmosphere – NeueHouse Hollywood


“Fathomers presented a casual art-meets-science brunch with artist Michael Jones McKean and paleophysiologist John VandenBrooks in conversation with Stacy Switzer, Fathomers’ curator and executive director.  VandenBrooks is consulting on McKean’s effort to replicate a 300-million-year-old atmosphere within a simple residential house — one of a dozen sites around the world that make up Twelve Earths, the project-in-progress launched by McKean and Fathomers to unfurl over the course of the next decade.”

Scientists Tried Growing Prehistoric-Sized Insects, and Here’s What Happened –

Top Ten Biggest Beasts Ever – National Geographic Documentary (2015)

“Before man ruled the world,Dragonfly Tracheae Earth was a land of giants. Count down the biggest beasts of their kind to ever roam the planet in this eye-opening special, and uncover the secret lives of these supersized species. Birds with plane-length wingspans, dinosaurs rivalling a Boeing 737; this stunning CGI special goes in search of the truth behind these monsters, counting down the ten largest and most extraordinary finds. . Visual stunts and surprising size comparisons bring each beast vividly back to life in ever-increasing sizes. Get ready for a dramatic countdown of the most mind-blowing lost giants.”

Big Insects Provide Big Answers About Oxygen


“John VandenBrooks, a paleophysiologist in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, has raised dragonflies that were 15 percent larger than their normal size. But why would someone want to bring supersized bugs into the world? Simply put, VandenBrooks is interested in how an animal’s environment affects its evolution.”

Insect Dissection: How Insects Work – Science Channel/BBC Documentary (2013)


“Cutting-edge imaging technology shows us the beauty and precision of the natural engineering inside even the simplest insects. Stripping back the layers, they uncover ingenious body systems and finely-tuned senses – a bug body plan that is the hidden blueprint behind insects’ ‘global domination’. They also discover how science is now using the secrets of insect anatomy to inspire technology that could save human lives.” – BBC Four

Monster Dragonflies of the Past – BBC Radio

“Geochemist John VandenBrooks has been breeding dragonflies to see if he can corroborate the suggestion that their ancestors grew to 2-foot wingspans 300 million years ago because of elevated oxygen levels in the atmosphere. He joins paleobotanist Andrew Scott to describe what we do and don’t know about the history of oxygen.” – BBC Material World

Oxygen boost helps dragonflies go large– Nature News Blog

“At the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America here in Denver, Colorado, John VandenBrooks, a paleontologist from Arizona State University in Tempe, presented experimental evidence which supports that link between oxygen and insect gigantism.” – Amanda Mascarelli

High Oxygen Levels Spawn Monster Dragonflies –

“Biologists have grown super-size dragonflies that are 15 percent larger than normal by raising the insects, from start to finish, in chambers emulating Earth’s oxygen conditions 300 million years ago.” – David Mosher

The Fifty Best Inventions of 2009 – Cyborg Beetles -Time Magazine

“Man has yet to master nature, but now he can make it turn left. Armed with funding from the Pentagon’s research wing, an engineering team has devised a method of remotely controlling the flight of beetles.” – Time Magazine

Evolve:  Size – History Channel Television Series (2009)

A piece on the what controls body size in different groups of animals.  My research was featured in a ten minute segment on the impacts of oxygen on insect body size and the evolution of giant insects.  Features rearing laboratory setups of oxygen chambers and an interview on how insect physiology is impacted both in the modern and in the past by varying oxygen levels.  Includes discussion of why there are no giants today as compared to in the Carboniferous and Permian.

Miniworlds may simulate climate change, extraterrestrial and ancient earth’s atmospheres

“Professor Jon Harrison and John VandenBrooks, researchers in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, are leading the effort to establish a Variable Atmosphere Laboratory (VAL) on ASU’s Polytechnic campus that would support 50-70 mini-worlds and enable the small scale creation of atmospheric conditions found from Mount Everest to Mars.

First Forests – BBC radio programme

“Andrew Luck-Baker explores these primeval forest ecosystems and their profound impact on the Earth’s atmosphere and climate, and the course of animal evolution… producing three foot dragonflies and coaxing our own distant ancestors out of the water.”

Welt voller Sauerstoff – Warum Libellen einmal groβ wie Falken waren – Deutschlandfunk Radio Interview
(World Full of Oxygen – Why Grasshoppers were once as large as falcons)

Changes in the Air –Variations in atmospheric oxygen have affected evolution in big ways – Sid Perkins; Science News 168(25)

Oxygen: Fueled Huge Ancient Insects? – Larry O’Hanlon; Discovery Channel News

Alligator Egg Development at Prehistoric Oxygen Levels – Yale News

“The development of bone structures in alligator eggs raised under varying oxygen concentrations creates a link to fossil records of the evolution of vertebrates and prehistoric atmospheric oxygen concentrations, according to a paper presented at the Earth System Processes 2 meeting in Alberta, Canada.”


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