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Keywords:

  • μ-CT-3D reconstruction;
  • anatomy;
  • μ-CT-3D reconstruction;
  • larvae;
  • Nevrorthus ;
  • phylogeny

External and internal head structures of larvae of Nevrorthidae were described in detail. The results were compared to conditions found in other representatives of Neuroptera and the other two neuropterid orders. The cladistic analysis supported the monophyly of Neuroptera, Neuroptera exclusive of Nevrorthidae, Hemerobiiformia, and Myrmeleontiformia. Neuroptera exclusive of Nevrorthidae are supported by the formation of an undivided postmentum and the presence of cryptonephric Malpighian tubules. The highly specialized articulation of the neck (Rollengelenk) and the absence of a salivary duct are autapomorphies of Nevrorthidae. Ithonidae and Polystoechotidae form a clade and are the sister group of the remaining Hemerobiiformia, which are characterized by the complete lack of a gula and a terminal filament of the antenna. Within this lineage, a clade comprising Mantispidae, Dilaridae, Berothidae, and Rhachiberothidae is well supported. Larvae of Myrmeleontiformia are characterized by a complex transformation of head structures, with a hypostomal bridge, a small triangular gula, largely reduced maxillary grooves, and anteriorly shifted posterior tentorial grooves. The slender finger-like mid-dorsal apodeme is another autapomorphy of the group. Psychopsidae are placed as the sister group of the remaining Myrmeleontiformia, which are characterized by a conspicuous, protruding ocular region (often less distinct or even absent in Nemopteridae). Ascalaphidae are the sister group of Myrmeleontidae. Larvae of both families share the fusion of the tibia and tarsus in the hind leg. The larval characters analysed were not sufficient for full resolution of the myrmeleontiform and hemerobiiform lineages. The position of several families such as Osmylidae, Sisyridae, and Coniopterygidae remains uncertain. The results are in agreement with an aquatic ancestor of Neuroptera and secondarily acquired terrestrial habits within the lineage (Neuroptera exclusive of Nevrorthidae), and another invasion of the aquatic environment by Sisyridae.

© 2010 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2010, 158, 533–562.