Cockroaches were a widely distributed order of insects in the Late Paleozoic. They lived in the damp, dark debris of the forest floor. Early species had the wide, flattened bodies of their extant descendants but were outfitted with much larger wings and a long, external ovipositor, which extended from the posterior. The ovipositor was probably used to insert the insect's eggs into a protective crevice in the ground. The external ovipositor appears in the fossil record of roaches until the Late Jurassic Epoch.
The first roaches lived in the moist swamplands of the Middle Carboniferous. They probably reached their most diverse state during the Carboniferous Period, when the mulch-blanketed floors of tropical forests literally were crawling with them. Considering the supersized state of some other arthropods of the time, it may be surprising to know that early roaches were not all that huge. A typical roach from the Carboniferous, such as Manoblatta (from France), was about 1.7 inches (4.3 cm) long. Some exceptions have been found; the largest fossil roach on record is a well-preserved specimen, discovered in 2001, from the Late Carboniferous of Ohio that measures 3.5 inches (9 cm) long.
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