Just one superorder of insects is known to possess a neuronal network that mediates extremely rapid reactions in flight in response to changes in optic flow. Research on the identity and functional organization of this network has over the course of almost half a century focused exclusively on the order Diptera, a member of the approximately 300-million-year-old clade Holometabola defined by its mode of development. However, it has been broadly claimed that the pivotal neuropil containing the network, the lobula plate, originated in the Cambrian before the divergence of Hexapoda and Crustacea from a mandibulate ancestor. This essay defines the traits that designate the lobula plate and argues against a homologue in Crustacea. It proposes that the origin of the lobula plate is relatively recent and may relate to the origin of flight.
- Lobula plate
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Developmental Biology
- Insect Science