Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you will not see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The insect order Mantophasmatodea was described in 2002. Prior to that time, several generations of entomologists had assumed that all major insect taxa were known; thus, its description was a sensation for zoologists. Since then, a surprising abundance and species diversity of this taxon have been found, particularly in the winter rainfall region of South Africa. To learn more about the evolutionary lineages, speciation, and biogeography of Mantophasmatodea, we applied an unusual peptidomics approach. We collected specimens of almost all known and novel taxa of these insects, developed methods for immediate sample preparation in the field, introduced peptide mass fingerprints for the unambiguous identification of taxa, and subsequently analyzed the most extensive data set on peptide hormones ever compiled for insect taxa. To account for intraspecific variation, we analyzed several individuals per putative species. Increased taxon sampling was preferred over a further increase in the number of characters to optimize the accuracy of phylogenetic analyses. The large data set made it possible to test the validity of using neuropeptide sequences, which coevolve with their respective receptors, to analyze phylogenetic relationships among closely related taxa. Altogether, the data from 71 populations of Mantophasmatodea were sufficient to clearly separate the major clades of Mantophasmatodea, including previously undescribed taxa such as Pachyphasma, Striatophasma, and Austrophasmatidae gen. et sp. nov. "RV." The data confirm the monophyly of Austrophasmatidae and show a relatively recent and extensive radiation in the winter rainfall region of South Africa but also suggest that the species-level diversification of Namibian Mantophasma is less marked than previously thought. We discuss the biogeographical and ecological factors that may have resulted in different regional patterns of endemism and species diversity in Mantophasmatodea. The unique development of the neuroendocrine capa-neurons in the ventral nervous system is described as synapomorphy of Mantophasmatodea + Grylloblattodea and is a further argument for a close relationship between these insect taxa.

Original publication




Journal article


Syst Biol

Publication Date





609 - 629


Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Evolution, Molecular, Insect Hormones, Insect Proteins, Insects, Molecular Sequence Data, Namibia, Neuropeptides, Peptide Mapping, Phylogeography, Proteomics, Sequence Alignment, South Africa