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Main article: Wing (insect)
File:Motion of Insectwing.gif

Basic motion of the insect wing in insect with an indirect flight mechanism scheme of dorsoventral cut through a thorax segment with
a wings
b joints
c dorsoventral muscles
d longitudinal muscles.

Insects are the only group of invertebrates to have developed flight.[Note 1] The evolution of insect wings has been a subject of debate. Some entomologists suggest that the wings are from paranotal lobes, or extensions from the insect's exoskeleton called the nota, called the paranotal theory. Other theories are based on a pleural origin. These theories include suggestions that wings originated from modified gills, spiracular flaps or as from an appendage of the epicoxa. The epicoxal theory suggests the insect wings are modified epicoxal exites, a modified appendage at the base of the legs or coxa.[2] In the Carboniferous age, some of the Meganeura dragonflies had as much as a Template:Convert/cmTemplate:Convert/test/Aon wide wingspan. The appearance of gigantic insects has been found to be consistent with high atmospheric oxygen. The respiratory system of insects constrains their size, however the high oxygen in the atmosphere allowed larger sizes.[3] The largest flying insects today are much smaller and include several moth species such as the Atlas moth and the White Witch (Thysania agrippina). Insect flight has been a topic of great interest in aerodynamics due partly to the inability of steady-state theories to explain the lift generated by the tiny wings of insects.

Unlike birds, many small insects are swept along by the prevailing winds[4] although many of the larger insects are known to make migrations. Aphids are known to be transported long distances by low-level jet streams.[5] As such, fine line patterns associated with converging winds within weather radar imagery, like the WSR-88D radar network, often represent large groups of insects.[6]

See also


  1. Ferris Jabr (2010). Fact or Fiction: Can a Squid Fly Out of the Water?. Scientific American.
  2. (September 2004). Hypothesis testing in evolutionary developmental biology: a case study from insect wings. Journal of Heredity 95 (5): 382–396.
  3. Dudley, R (1998). Atmospheric oxygen, giant Paleozoic insects and the evolution of aerial locomotor performance. Journal of Experimental Biology 201 (8): 1043–1050.
  4. Diana Yates (2008). Birds migrate together at night in dispersed flocks, new study indicates. University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign. Retrieved on 2009-04-26.
  5. Drake, V. A., R. A. Farrow (1988). The Influence of Atmospheric Structure and Motions on Insect Migration. Annual Review of Entomology 33: 183–210.
  6. Bart Geerts and Dave Leon (2003). P5A.6 Fine-Scale Vertical Structure of a Cold Front As Revealed By Airborne 95 GHZ Radar. University of Wyoming. Retrieved on 2009-04-26.

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