The Odonata are in many imaginal and larval characters highly specialized; yet they probably arose with the Ephemeroptera as a divergent offshoot of the same primitive isopteroid stock which developed more directly into the living Isoptera, Plecoptera, Dermaptera and Orthoptera.
Thus the condition in the Dermaptera is more primitive than in any other Pterygote order except the Ephemeroptera (Mayflies) which are still more generalized, the primitive mesodermal ducts (oviducts and vasa deferentia) opening by paired apertures as in the Crustacea.
In the Jurassic rocks are found Ephemeroptera and Odonata, as well as Hemiptera, referable to existing families, some representatives of which had already appeared in.
For EPHEMEROPTERA and ODONATA, see MAY-FLY and DRAGON-FLY.
There is much to be said in favour of the view entertained by some entomologists that the structural and developmental characteristics of may-flies are sufficiently peculiar to warrant the formation for them of a special order of insects, for which the names Agnatha, Plectoptera and Ephemeroptera have been proposed.
As shown by the number and variety of species, the Orthoptera are the most dominant order of this group. Eminently terrestrial in habit, the differentiation of their fore-wings and hindwings can be traced from Carboniferous, isopteroid ancestors through intermediate Mesozoic forms. The Plecoptera resemble the Ephemeroptera and Odonata in the aquatic habits of their larvae, and by the occasional presence of tufted thoracic gills in the imago exhibit an aquatic character unknown in any other winged insects.
As regards wing-structure, the Isoptera with the two pairs closely similar are the most primitive of all winged insects; while in the paired mesodermal genital ducts, the elongate cerci and the conspicuous maxillulae of their larvae the Ephemeroptera retain notable ancestral characters.
The sub-imago of the Ephemeroptera suggests that a moult, after the wings had become functional, was at one time general among the Hexapoda, and that the resting nymph of the Thysanoptera or the pupa of the Endopterygota represents a formerly active stage in the life-history.