Neuropterida is a relatively small taxon of three archaic insect orders united by a few weak morphological synapomorphies (Kristensen, 1999). Recent DNA sequence data nonetheless support the clade (Whiting, 2002; Haring and Aspock, 2004). It is thought to be the sister clade of the Coleoptera, and together the two taxa constitute the monophyletic "neuropteroid complex" or "Neuropterodea" of Endopterygota (Holometabola).
The globally distributed neuropterid order Megaloptera includes some 300 species in two families. Raphidioptera is a small Holarctic order of two families and about 200 species. Cosmopolitan Neuroptera is much larger, at 6000 described species. Neuroptera is also the most neatly delimited of the three orders: although its 17 families are extraordinarily disparate in morphology and habits, all share a suite of specialised suctorial mouthpart structures in their larvae. In contrast, neither Megaloptera nor Raphidioptera possess compelling morphological synapomorphies, and their phylogenetic positions within Neuropterida are uncertain (reviewed in Aspock et al., 2001). Nevertheless, monophyly of Megaloptera and Raphidioptera has been affirmed by DNA sequence data (Haring and Aspock, 2004). The most recent morphological and molecular studies (Figure 10.1) support a clade of Megaloptera + Neuroptera, with Raphidioptera as its outgroup (Aspock et al., 2001; Aspock, 2002; Haring and Aspock, 2004).
phytosuccivorous ! larva with unique head : capsule morphology larva with robust, curved jaws loss of gula in larva —|—1
Hemerobiiformia _larva with unique
phytosuccivorous ! larva with unique head : capsule morphology larva with robust, curved jaws
Myrmeleontiformia terrestrial larva with reduced gula loss of gula in larva —|—1
Hemerobiiformia _larva with unique head capsule morphology elongate elytra prothorax unique male genitalia
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