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The wing base of the palaeodictyopteran genus Dunbaria Tillyard: Where are we now?

Prokop, Jakub, Pecharová, Martina, Nel, André, Hörnschemeyer, Thomas
Arthropod structure & development 2018 v.47 no.4 pp. 339-351
Dunbaria, Ephemeroptera, Odonata, Paleozoic era, arthropods, insects, phylogeny
The structure of insect wing articulation is considered as reliable source of high level characters for phylogenetic analyses. However, the correct identification of homologous structures among the main groups of Pterygota is a hotly debated issue. Therefore, the reconstruction of the wing bases in Paleozoic extinct relatives is of great interest, but at the same time it should be treated with extreme caution due to distortions caused by taphonomic effects. The present study is focused on the wing base in Dunbaria (Spilapteridae). The articulation in Dunbaria quinquefasciata is mainly formed by a prominent upright axillary plate while the humeral plate is markedly reduced. Due to unique preservation of surface relief of the axillary plate, its composition shows a detailed pattern of three fused axillary sclerites and presumable position of the sclerite 3Ax. The obtained structures were compared among Spilapteridae and to other palaeodictyopterans Ostrava nigra (Homoiopteridae) and Namuroningxia elegans (Namuroningxiidae). The comparative study uncovered two patterns of 3Ax in Dunbaria and Namuroningxia, which correspond to their different suprafamilial classification. In contrast to previous studies these new results reveal the homologous structural elements in the wing base between Paleozoic Palaeodictyoptera and their extant relatives of Ephemeroptera, Odonata and Neoptera.