The widespread hatred for cockroaches often leads people to exaggerate the size of these ugly insects. It is not uncommon for people, especially New York City residents, to claim to have found cockroaches as large as puppies. Of course, these claims are often made in a half-serious manner, but even the most hardcore Big Apple residents would be shocked to find certain roach species that dwell within Central and South America. In this region, one species of cockroach reaches sizes that exceed three and a half inches in length, but the most jaw-dropping aspect of these roaches has to be their 8 inch wing-span.

The Megaloblatta longipennis cockroach species found in the countries of Peru, Ecuador and Panama grow to be the largest of all cockroach species currently existing in the world. The largest specimen of this species on record can currently be found preserved in the insect collection kept by Akira Yokokura of Yamagata, Japan. This female measures at 3.8 inches in body length and nearly 2 inches in body width. The average cockroach, including all species, averages between .6 and 3 inches in length, making the South American species a true behemoth. Amazingly, this largest-on-record female cockroach even exceeds the size of the largest fossilized cockroach ever found.

The largest cockroach fossil ever found contains a 3.5 inch and now extinct roach species that crawled the earth around 55 million years before the dinosaurs came into existence. This puts this species as existing during the Carboniferous period 300 million years ago. The fossil was so well preserved that geologists are able to make out the prominent veins present on its wings. This fossilized specimen also possessed unusual antenna that wrapped around its body, and its creepy looking mouthparts are clearly visible. This roach fossil was discovered at a famed fossil site located in Youngstown, Ohio.

Have you ever found an insect fossil of any kind?