By combining their isotope findings with other fossil residues—pollen levels and so on—scientists can, with considerable confidence, re-create entire landscapes that no human eye ever saw.
The principal reason oxygen levels were able to build up so robustly throughout the period of early terrestrial life was that much of the world's landscape was dominated by giant tree ferns and vast swamps, which by their boggy nature disrupted the normal carbon recycling process. Instead of completely rotting down, falling fronds and other dead vegetative matter accumulated in rich, wet sediments, which were eventually squeezed into the vast coal beds that sustain much economic activity even now.
The heady levels of oxygen clearly encouraged outsized growth. The oldest indication of a surface animal yet found is a track left 350 million years ago by a millipede-like creature on a rock in Scotland. It was over three feet long. Before the era was out some millipedes would reach lengths more than double that.
With such creatures on the prowl, it is perhaps not surprising that insects in the period evolved a trick that could keep them safely out of tongue shot: they learned to fly. Some took to this new means of locomotion with such uncanny facility that they haven't changed their techniques in all the time since.