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100 years Zoraptera—a phantom in insect evolution and the history of its investigation

In: Insect Systematics & Evolution
Authors:
Y. Mashimo Sugadaira Montane Research Center, University of Tsukuba, Sugadaira Kogen, Ueda Nagano 386-2204, Japan

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Y. Matsumura Institut für Spezielle Zoologie und Evolutionsbiologie, Erbertstrasse 1, FSU Jena, 07743 Jena, Germany

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R. Machida Sugadaira Montane Research Center, University of Tsukuba, Sugadaira Kogen, Ueda Nagano 386-2204, Japan

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R. Dallai Department of Life Sciences, University of Siena, Via A. Moro 2, I-53100 Siena, Italy

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M. Gottardo Department of Life Sciences, University of Siena, Via A. Moro 2, I-53100 Siena, Italy

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K. Yoshizawa Department of Systematic Entomology, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-8589, Japan

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F. Friedrich Biozentrum Grindel und Zoologisches Museum Hamburg, Martin-Luther-King-Platz 3, Universität Hamburg, 20146 Hamburg, Germany

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B. Wipfler Institut für Spezielle Zoologie und Evolutionsbiologie, Erbertstrasse 1, FSU Jena, 07743 Jena, Germany

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R.G. Beutel Institut für Spezielle Zoologie und Evolutionsbiologie, Erbertstrasse 1, FSU Jena, 07743 Jena, Germany

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Zoraptera are a cryptic and enigmatic group of insects. The species diversity is lower than in almost all other groups of Hexapoda, but may be distinctly higher than presently known. Several new species were described from different regions recently. The systematic placement was discussed controversially since the group was discovered 100 years ago. Affinities with Isoptera and Psocoptera were discussed in earlier studies. A sister group relationship with Acercaria (Psocodea, Thysanoptera, Hemiptera) was proposed by W. Hennig, for the first time based on a strictly phylogenetic argumentation. More recent studies consistently suggest a placement among the “lower neopteran orders” (Polyneoptera). Close affinities to Dictyoptera were proposed and alternatively a sister group relationship with Embioptera or with Embioptera + Phasmatodea (Eukinolabia), respectively. The precise placement is still controversial and the intraordinal relationships are largely unclear. Recent transcriptome analyses tentatively suggest a clade Zoraptera + Dermaptera as sister group of all other polyneopteran orders. The oldest fossils are from Cretaceous amber. An extinct genus from this era may be the sister group of all the remaining zorapterans. The knowledge of the morphology, development and features related to the reproductive system greatly increased in recent years. The general body morphology is very uniform, whereas the genitalia differ strongly between species. This is likely due to different kinds of selection, i.e. sexual selection in the case of the genital organs. The mating pattern also differs profoundly within the order. A unique external sperm transfer occurs in Zorotypus impolitus. A species-level phylogeny and more investigations of the reproductive system should have high priority.

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