character matrix.nex from Cretaceous winged stick insects clarify the early evolution of Phasmatodea
2019-08-08T07:10:56Z (GMT) by
Wingless and shorter winged stick insects are very common today, but most known extinct stick insects had fully developed wings, leading to contentious affinities among the extinct winged and extant groups. We report herein three male winged stick insects, assigned to Pterophasmatidae fam. nov., from mid-Cretaceous Myanmar (Burmese) amber. Pterophasmatidae fam. nov. are regarded as transitional taxa from extinct winged to modern wingless and shorter winged stick insects based on their similar tegmina venation with extinct Susumanioidea and some body features same as extant Phasmatodea. However, their symmetric phallic organs comprising two consistent phallomeres are different from those of all living groups. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that the extinct winged taxa, including the new family, are the stem groups of modern stick and leaf insects, and all of them constitute the clade of Phasmatodea. New findings indicate winged and wingless stick insects' morphologies diversified significantly during or before mid-Cretaceous.