The Dicondylia are a taxonomic group (taxon) that includes all insects except the jumping bristletails (Archaeognatha). Dicondylia have a mandible attached with two hinges to the head capsule (dicondyl), in contrast to the original mandible with a single ball joint (monocondyl).

Temporal range: 396–0 Ma
Early Devonian[1] (but see text)–Present
Insect collage
Clockwise from top left: dance fly (Empis livida), long-nosed weevil (Rhinotia hemistictus), mole cricket (Gryllotalpa brachyptera), German wasp (Vespula germanica), emperor gum moth (Opodiphthera eucalypti), assassin bug (Harpactorinae)
A chorus of several Magicicada species
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Class: Insecta
(unranked): Dicondylia

See text.

  • Ectognatha
  • Entomida

Dicondyle mandible and other features

The taxon is distinguished by the possession of a modified mandible with an additional joint canal, which also changes the muscle attachments of the mouth tools and allows a modified mandible movement compared to other mandibles (crustaceans, centipedes, jumping bristletails). This so-called dicondyle mandible has two joints with which it is attached to the head capsule, while other taxa have only one single ball joint.[2][3]

In addition to this main feature, all members of the Dicondylia have a number of other group-specific features in their blueprint. They have a continuous occipital seam, and a further joint between the upper and lower limbs.[3] At the base of the oviposition tube (ovipositor), there is an additional sclerite, the gonangulum, which allows for the improved coordination of the movement of the gonapophyses. In addition, all these insects have a five-membered tarsus[3] and styli are present at their maximum at the two last abdominal segments. Another feature relates to embryonic development; all dicondylia form a closed amniotic cavity around the embryos, producing two complete embryonic shells (the amnion and serosa).


The Dicondylia includes all of the flying insects (Pterygota), and the Zygentoma (siverfish, etc.) that were formerly classified with the jumping bristletails in the now deprecated order Thysanura.

The taxon Dicondylia contains the following insect groups:[4]

Notes and references


  1. ^ Engel, Michael S.; David A. Grimaldi (2004). "New light shed on the oldest insect". Nature. 427 (6975): 627–630. Bibcode:2004Natur.427..627E. doi:10.1038/nature02291. PMID 14961119.
  2. ^ Merkmale nach Klausnitzer 1997.
  3. ^ a b c Ward C. Wheeler, Michael Whiting, Quentin D. Wheeler, James M. Carpenter: The Phylogeny of the Extant Hexapod Orders. Cladistics 17, 2001; S. 113–169. (PDF).
  4. ^ Systematik nach Klausnitzer 1997.


  • Bernhard Klausnitzer: Insecta (Hexapoda), Insekten In Westheide, Rieger (Hrsg.): Spezielle Zoologie Teil 1: Einzeller und Wirbellose Tiere. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart, Jena 1997; S. 626f.

Apogonia is a genus of scarab beetles. Some are pests of durian trees.


The name Apterygota is sometimes applied to a subclass of small, agile insects, distinguished from other insects by their lack of wings in the present and in their evolutionary history; notable examples are the silverfish, the firebrat, and the jumping bristletails. Their first known occurrence in the fossil record is during the Devonian period, 417–354 million years ago.

The nymphs (younger stages) go through little or even no metamorphosis, hence they resemble the adult specimens. Their skin is thin, making them appear translucent.

Currently, no species are listed as being at conservation risk.

The term Apterygota refers to two separate clades of wingless insects: Archeognatha comprises jumping bristletails, while Zygentoma comprises silverfish and firebrats. The Zygentoma are in the clade Dicondylia with winged insects, a clade that includes all other insects. The group Apterygota is not a clade; it is paraphyletic.


The Archaeognatha are an order of apterygotes, known by various common names such as jumping bristletails. Among extant insect taxa they are some of the most evolutionarily primitive; they appeared in the Middle Devonian period at about the same time as the arachnids. Specimens that closely resemble extant species have been found as both body and trace fossils (the latter including body imprints and trackways) in strata from the remainder of the Paleozoic Era and more recent periods. For historical reasons an alternative name for the order is Microcoryphia.Until the late 20th century the suborders Zygentoma and Archaeognatha comprised the order Thysanura; both orders possess three-pronged tails comprising two lateral cerci and a medial epiproct or appendix dorsalis. Of the three organs, the appendix dorsalis is considerably longer than the two cerci; in this the Archaeognatha differ from the Zygentoma, in which the three organs are subequal in length. In the late 20th century, it was recognized that the order Thysanura was paraphyletic, thus the two suborders were each raised to the status of an independent monophyletic order, with Archaeognatha sister taxon to the Dicondylia, including the Zygentoma.The order Archaeognatha is cosmopolitan; it includes roughly 500 species in two families. No species is currently evaluated as being at conservation risk.

Ashfield Shale

Ashfield Shale is part of the Wiannamatta group of sedimentary rocks in the Sydney Basin. It lies directly on contemporaneously eroded Hawkesbury sandstone or the Mittagong formation. These rock types were formed in the Triassic Period. It is named after the Sydney suburb of Ashfield. Some of the early research was performed at the old Ashfield Brickworks Quarry. This rock type is often associated with the Inner West and North Shore of the city. However, it has also been recorded at Penrith, Revesby, Bilpin and Mount Irvine.

Evolution of insects

The most recent understanding of the evolution of insects is based on studies of the following branches of science: molecular biology, insect morphology, paleontology, insect taxonomy, evolution, embryology, bioinformatics and scientific computing. It is estimated that the class of insects originated on Earth about 480 million years ago, in the Ordovician, at about the same time terrestrial plants appeared. Insects evolved from a group of crustaceans. The first insects were land bound, but about 400 million years ago in the Devonian period one lineage of insects evolved flight, the first animals to do so. The oldest insect fossil has been proposed to be Rhyniognatha hirsti, estimated to be 400 million years old, but the insect identity of the fossil has been contested. Global climate conditions changed several times during the history of Earth, and along with it the diversity of insects. The Pterygotes (winged insects) underwent a major radiation in the Carboniferous (356 to 299 million years ago) while the Endopterygota (insects that go through different life stages with metamorphosis) underwent another major radiation in the Permian (299 to 252 million years ago).

Most extant orders of insects developed during the Permian period. Many of the early groups became extinct during the mass extinction at the Permo-Triassic boundary, the largest extinction event in the history of the Earth, around 252 million years ago. The survivors of this event evolved in the Triassic (252 to 201 million years ago) to what are essentially the modern insect orders that persist to this day. Most modern insect families appeared in the Jurassic (201 to 145 million years ago).

In an important example of co-evolution, a number of highly successful insect groups — especially the Hymenoptera (wasps, bees and ants) and Lepidoptera (butterflies) as well as many types of Diptera (flies) and Coleoptera (beetles) — evolved in conjunction with flowering plants during the Cretaceous (145 to 66 million years ago).Many modern insect genera developed during the Cenozoic that began about 66 million years ago; insects from this period onwards frequently became preserved in amber, often in perfect condition. Such specimens are easily compared with modern species, and most of them are members of extant genera.


Insects or Insecta (from Latin insectum) are hexapod invertebrates and the largest group within the arthropod phylum. Definitions and circumscriptions vary; usually, insects comprise a class within the Arthropoda. As used here, the term Insecta is synonymous with Ectognatha. Insects have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body (head, thorax and abdomen), three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes and one pair of antennae. Insects are the most diverse group of animals; they include more than a million described species and represent more than half of all known living organisms. The total number of extant species is estimated at between six and ten million; potentially over 90% of the animal life forms on Earth are insects. Insects may be found in nearly all environments, although only a small number of species reside in the oceans, which are dominated by another arthropod group, crustaceans.

Nearly all insects hatch from eggs. Insect growth is constrained by the inelastic exoskeleton and development involves a series of molts. The immature stages often differ from the adults in structure, habit and habitat, and can include a passive pupal stage in those groups that undergo four-stage metamorphosis. Insects that undergo three-stage metamorphosis lack a pupal stage and adults develop through a series of nymphal stages. The higher level relationship of the insects is unclear. Fossilized insects of enormous size have been found from the Paleozoic Era, including giant dragonflies with wingspans of 55 to 70 cm (22 to 28 in). The most diverse insect groups appear to have coevolved with flowering plants.

Adult insects typically move about by walking, flying, or sometimes swimming. As it allows for rapid yet stable movement, many insects adopt a tripedal gait in which they walk with their legs touching the ground in alternating triangles, composed of the front & rear on one side with the middle on the other side. Insects are the only invertebrates to have evolved flight, and all flying insects derive from one common ancestor. Many insects spend at least part of their lives under water, with larval adaptations that include gills, and some adult insects are aquatic and have adaptations for swimming. Some species, such as water striders, are capable of walking on the surface of water. Insects are mostly solitary, but some, such as certain bees, ants and termites, are social and live in large, well-organized colonies. Some insects, such as earwigs, show maternal care, guarding their eggs and young. Insects can communicate with each other in a variety of ways. Male moths can sense the pheromones of female moths over great distances. Other species communicate with sounds: crickets stridulate, or rub their wings together, to attract a mate and repel other males. Lampyrid beetles communicate with light.

Humans regard certain insects as pests, and attempt to control them using insecticides, and a host of other techniques. Some insects damage crops by feeding on sap, leaves, fruits, or wood. Some species are parasitic, and may vector diseases. Some insects perform complex ecological roles; blow-flies, for example, help consume carrion but also spread diseases. Insect pollinators are essential to the life cycle of many flowering plant species on which most organisms, including humans, are at least partly dependent; without them, the terrestrial portion of the biosphere would be devastated. Many insects are considered ecologically beneficial as predators and a few provide direct economic benefit. Silkworms produce silk and honey bees produce honey and both have been domesticated by humans. Insects are consumed as food in 80% of the world's nations, by people in roughly 3000 ethnic groups. Human activities also have effects on insect biodiversity.


Metapterygota is a clade of winged insects containing order Odonata and Infraclass Neoptera.


The Pterygota are a subclass of insects that includes the winged insects. It also includes insect orders that are secondarily wingless (that is, insect groups whose ancestors once had wings but that have lost them as a result of subsequent evolution).The pterygotan group comprises almost all insects. The insect orders not included are the Archaeognatha (jumping bristletails) and the Zygentoma (silverfishes and firebrats), two primitively wingless insect orders. Also not included are the three orders no longer considered to be insects: Protura, Collembola, and Diplura.


Strudiella devonica is a possible insect fossil, the first complete Late Devonian insect, probably terrestrial. It was recovered in the Strud (Gesves, Belgium) environment from the Bois des Mouches Formation, Upper Famennian. It had unspecialized, 'orthopteroid', mouthparts, indicating an omnivorous diet.

This discovery reduces a previous gap of 45 million years in the evolutionary history of insects, part of the arthropod gap (the 'gap' still occurs in the early Carboniferous, coinciding and extending past the Romer's gap for tetrapods, which may have been caused by low oxygen levels in the atmosphere). Body segments, legs and antennae are visible; however, genitalia were not preserved. The insect has no wings, but it may be a juvenile.


Thysanura is the now deprecated name of what was, for over a century, recognised as an order in the class Insecta. The two constituent groups within the former order, the Archaeognatha and the Zygentoma, share several characteristics, such as of having three long caudal filaments, the lateral ones being the cerci, while the one between (telson) is a medial cerciform appendage, specifically an epiproct. They are also both wingless, and have bodies covered with fine scales, rather like the scales of the practically unrelated Lepidoptera. In the late 20th century, it was recognized that the two suborders were not sister taxa, therefore Thysanura was paraphyletic, and the two suborders were each raised to the status of an independent monophyletic order, with Archaeognatha sister taxon to the Dicondylia, including the Zygentoma.

Although the group Thysanura is no longer recognized, the name still appears in some published material. Another name used to separate the two groups from winged insects is Apterygota.


Zygentoma are an order in the class Insecta, and consist of about 400 known species. The Zygentoma include the so-called silverfish or fishmoths, and the firebrats. A conspicuous feature of the order is that the members all have three long caudal filaments. The two lateral filaments are cerci, and the medial one is an epiproct or appendix dorsalis. In this they resemble the Archaeognatha, though, unlike in the latter order, the cerci of Zygentoma are nearly as long as the epiproct.Until the late twentieth century the Zygentoma were regarded as a suborder of the Thysanura, until it was recognized that the order Thysanura was paraphyletic, thus the two suborders were each raised to the status of an independent monophyletic order, with Archaeognatha sister taxon to the Dicondylia, including the Zygentoma.

Insect orders


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