Mesothorax

Mesothorax

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The mesothorax is the middle of the three segments in the thorax
Thorax (insect anatomy)
The thorax is the mid section of the insect body. It holds the head, legs, wings and abdomen. It is also called mesosoma in other arthropods....

 of an insect
Insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

, and bears the second pair of legs. Its principal sclerite
Sclerite
A sclerite is a hardened body part. The term is used in various branches of biology for various structures including hardened portions of sponges, but it is most commonly used for the hardened portions of arthropod exoskeletons....

s (exoskeletal plates) are the mesonotum (dorsal
Dorsum (biology)
In anatomy, the dorsum is the upper side of animals that typically run, fly, or swim in a horizontal position, and the back side of animals that walk upright. In vertebrates the dorsum contains the backbone. The term dorsal refers to anatomical structures that are either situated toward or grow...

), the mesosternum (ventral), and the mesopleuron (lateral) on each side. The mesothorax is the segment that bears the forewings in all winged insects, though sometimes these may be reduced or modified, as in beetle
Beetle
Coleoptera is an order of insects commonly called beetles. The word "coleoptera" is from the Greek , koleos, "sheath"; and , pteron, "wing", thus "sheathed wing". Coleoptera contains more species than any other order, constituting almost 25% of all known life-forms...

s (Coleoptera) or Dermaptera, in which they are sclerotized to form the elytra ("wing covers"), and the Strepsiptera
Strepsiptera
The Strepsiptera are an order of insects with ten families making up about 600 species...

, in which they are reduced to form halteres. All adult insects possess legs on the mesothorax. In some groups of insects, the mesonotum is hypertrophied, such as in Diptera
Diptera
Diptera , or true flies, is the order of insects possessing only a single pair of wings on the mesothorax; the metathorax bears a pair of drumstick like structures called the halteres, the remnants of the hind wings. It is a large order, containing an estimated 240,000 species, although under half...

, Hymenoptera
Hymenoptera
Hymenoptera is one of the largest orders of insects, comprising the sawflies, wasps, bees and ants. There are over 130,000 recognized species, with many more remaining to be described. The name refers to the heavy wings of the insects, and is derived from the Ancient Greek ὑμήν : membrane and...

, and Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera is a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies . It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world, encompassing moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies, skipper butterflies, and moth-butterflies...

), in which the anterior portion of the mesonotum (called the mesoscutum
Scute
A scute or scutum is a bony external plate or scale, as on the shell of a turtle, the skin of crocodilians, the feet of some birds or the anterior portion of the mesonotum in insects.-Properties:...

, or simply "scutum") forms most of the dorsal surface of the thorax. In these orders, there is also typically a small sclerite attached to the mesonotum that covers the wing base, called the tegula
Tegula (anatomy)
A tegula is a small sclerite situated above the base of the costal vein in the wings of various insects such as Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, Diptera, and Homoptera, and attached to the antero-lateral portion of the mesonotum....

. In one group of insects, the Hemiptera
Hemiptera
Hemiptera is an order of insects most often known as the true bugs , comprising around 50,000–80,000 species of cicadas, aphids, planthoppers, leafhoppers, shield bugs, and others...

, the dorsal surface of the thorax is typically formed primarily of the prothorax, but also in part by the enlarged posterior portion of the mesonotum, called the scutellum; in the Coleoptera, the scutellum may or may not be visible, usually as a small triangular plate between the elytral bases, thus similar in position to the Hemiptera
Hemiptera
Hemiptera is an order of insects most often known as the true bugs , comprising around 50,000–80,000 species of cicadas, aphids, planthoppers, leafhoppers, shield bugs, and others...

n scutellum. In Diptera
Diptera
Diptera , or true flies, is the order of insects possessing only a single pair of wings on the mesothorax; the metathorax bears a pair of drumstick like structures called the halteres, the remnants of the hind wings. It is a large order, containing an estimated 240,000 species, although under half...

 and Hymenoptera
Hymenoptera
Hymenoptera is one of the largest orders of insects, comprising the sawflies, wasps, bees and ants. There are over 130,000 recognized species, with many more remaining to be described. The name refers to the heavy wings of the insects, and is derived from the Ancient Greek ὑμήν : membrane and...

 the mesothoracic scutellum is also distinct, but much smaller than the mesoscutum.

See also

  • Glossary of entomology terms
  • Insect morphology
    Insect morphology
    The morphology of insects enables the phenomenal success of this class of arthropods. The sheer quantity and diversity of its taxa are matched by a large variation of modifications in its body structure. The high rate of speciation, short generations and long lineage have caused insects to evolve...

  • Thorax (insect anatomy)
    Thorax (insect anatomy)
    The thorax is the mid section of the insect body. It holds the head, legs, wings and abdomen. It is also called mesosoma in other arthropods....

  • Prothorax
    Prothorax
    The prothorax is the foremost of the three segments in the thorax of an insect, and bears the first pair of legs. Its principal sclerites are the pronotum , the prosternum , and the propleuron on each side. The prothorax never bears wings in extant insects, though some fossil groups possessed...

  • Metathorax
    Metathorax
    The metathorax is the posterior of the three segments in the thorax of an insect, and bears the third pair of legs. Its principal sclerites are the metanotum , the metasternum , and the metapleuron on each side...