How And When Did Insect Wings Evolve?
Although insects are the most abundant types of animals on the planet, there is nevertheless a lot that researchers do not understand about insects. The relatively small amount of scientific literature concerning the origins and early lives of insects is understandable when considering that insects typically do not leave behind fossilized remains. This is obviously due to that lack of bones in insects. Once an insect decomposes, nothing is left to signify its passed existence. This lack of fossil evidence is one reason for the lack of knowledge concerning the origin of insect wings. This makes it necessary for entomologists to draw conclusion about the origins of insects by referring to modern specimens. For example, one researcher has successfully induced the growth of wings on a beetle’s abdomen, and the entomological community is learning a lot about insect wings as a result of this creepy experiment.
Yoshinori Tomoyasu, a biologist at Miami University edited the genes of a Tribolium beetle so that it would grow a wing on its abdomen. The wing was formed from tissue that is normally reserved for hind leg growth. Basically the wing had to rob the beetle of a hind leg in order to grow. This experiment confirms that wings develop from an insects hind legs. For years this has been one of three theories concerning wing development in insects. A second theory suggested that insect wings simply grew out of the dorsal region. And a third theory is referred to as the “dual origin hypothesis”. While these are all plausible theories, thanks to this recent experiment, researchers now know for sure that insect wings developed from the hind legs of ancient insects. The researchers were even able to determine which type of hind leg tissue makes up wing formation. Although this is a big step in the understanding of insect evolution, there is still much research to be done.
Had you ever considered how an insect’s wings and its hind legs are similarly placed?