Treehoppers redux: a cool video

May 9, 2011 • 9:57 am

Last week I wrote about treehoppers (membracids) and the new evidence, published in Nature, that their bizarre “helmets” are actually homologous to ancestral wing structures.  This evidence included the observation that, like wings, the treehopper helmet is heavily covered with veins, and, like wings, is inflated shortly after the final moult, which produces the adult. (There was also genetic evidence: the same “key” genes induce both wing and helmet development.)

Via Bug Girl’s Blog, where BG has just posted on that paper, we have this video from Nature showing a treehopper, right after its final moult, inflating first its wings and then its helmet. I can’t embed it here, but click on this link to watch it.  It’s a graphic demonstration of the relatedness of these two structures.

Here are three screenshots showing the inflation of first the wings and then the helmet.

5 thoughts on “Treehoppers redux: a cool video

  1. But it looks like the helmet functions as some kind of shield for the wings as well. What does it do with the helmet when it flies? (If it flies, that is). Off to do some googling

  2. What an awesome video! Teddy just pointed to a picture of a treehopper day before yesterday and asked “what’s this bird”! Will be showing him the video, forthwith. Enjoyed Bug Girl’s post, too–very clearly explained! Fun new site–thanks! (bookmarked)

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