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Hexapoda

The Subphylum Hexapoda (six-legged) is the largest group within the Arthropods, and includes a number of smaller groups and the class of insects. Fossil Hexapoda are known from the middle Devonian period. The group has always been very successful throughout evolutionary history. There are nearly a million species of insects described by science. It is by far the animal group with the highest species diversity. Most species of insects live on land and in fresh water, and are often active flyers. Insects were the first group who developed active flight as propulsion method.

Insects have an exoskeleton of chitin. Most insects have three parts: The head (tagmata), middle section (thorax) and rear (abdomen). On the thorax there are six legs. Further, the head has several jaw parts and antennas. Some insects have two or four wings.

The oldest fossil insects are known from the Devonian period, but the first insects should probably originated in the Silurian period. The lineage of insects is still poorly understood. Roughly 300 million years ago the first beetles appeared, 250 million years ago the fly, and 150 million years ago came the moths and wasps. Many well-preserved fossil insects were found in amber.

 

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