Experimental evidence on actuation and performance of the elytron-to-body articulation in a diving beetle, Cybister laterimarginalis (Coleoptera, Dytiscidae).
Journal of insect physiology | 23 Oct 2012
Movements of the elytra and axillary sclerites were video recorded in tethered flying beetles and in manipulated mounts. Mesothoracic axillary plates are homologues of those in the metathorax. Two anterior axillaries (Ax1, Ax2) fuse together; they are hinged to the third axillary plate (Ax3). In turn, Ax3 is hinged with the elytron. During takeoff, a beetle abducts and highly elevates its elytra (1), then droops the elytra in a flatly spread position (2); closing is adduction in a horizontal plane (3). These steps have been simulated: (1) by pressing down the anterior horn; (2) occurred spontaneously after release of pressing; (3) the elytron closed flatly either by manual turn of the elytron or by manual elevation of the prothorax. Anterior axillaries rotated forward and down during (1), returned during (2) and remained immobile during closing. Ax3 is folded between the closed elytron and Ax1+Ax2; it unfolds during opening. Two hinges of Ax3 form a Z-configuration and provide a linked drive for complicated rotation of the elytron. Opening was impaired in vivo if tergal leg protractor and depressor were disabled, closing did not suffer. Closing was prevented by excision in the hind edge of the pronotum, not harmful for opening. Role of direct and indirect muscles in transient elytral movements is discussed.
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