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All winged vertebrates have wings which are homologous to each other and to the forelimbs of the non-winged vertebrates. But what about insect wings? Are all insect wings homologous, and are there any homologies between insect wings and any vertebrate limbs?

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I don't have the rep for it, but I think that homology and vertebrates would go well on this question. – JSBձոգչ Jun 11 '12 at 15:37
I added homology, which is a concept likely to come up alot, but not yet tagged. I also added zoology... do vertebrates need a tag? – Richard Smith-Unna Jun 11 '12 at 21:50
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Insects and vertebrates are extremely distantly related: they're on opposite sides of the oldest split among bilaterally symmetric animals. Their most recent common ancestor lived in the pre-cambrian and was almost certainly worm-shaped with no limbs at all. There's no way that insect wings are homologous to any body parts of vertebrates.

The evolution of insect wings is a somewhat difficult topic, because it happened 350 million years ago in animals that do not fossilize well. Wikipedia discusses several possible theories for what parts of non-winged insects are homologs of insect wings. Currently the situation does not seem to be resolved.

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