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Abstract Homology of the wing base structure in the Odonata is highly controversial, and many different interpretations of homology have been proposed. In extreme cases, two independent origins of insect wings have been suggested, based on comparative morphology between the odonate and other pterygote wing bases. Difficulties in establishing homology of the wing base structures between Odonata and other Pterygota result mainly from their extreme differences in morphology and function. In the present paper, we establish homology of the wing base structures between Neoptera, Ephemeroptera and Odonata using highly conservative and unambiguously identifiable characters (the basal wing hinge and subcostal veins) as principal landmarks. Homology of the odonate wing base structure with those of Ephemeroptera and Neoptera can be identified reliably. Based on this interpretation, the ancestral condition of the insect wing base structure is discussed.