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Saltin, Brian D.; Haug, Carolin; Haug, Joachim T. (2016): How metamorphic is holometabolous development? Using microscopical methods to look inside the scorpionfly (Panorpa) pupa (Mecoptera, Panorpidae). In: Spixiana, Vol. 39, No. 1: pp. 105-118
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We show new observations of the pupal development of species in the mecopteran group Panorpa. As pupal cuticle is largely transparent it is possible to observe the formation of the adult structures in a gradual manner. We demonstrate that the pupal cuticle does not largely resemble the adult cuticle, but has a transitory morphology between that of the larva and that of the adult. We show that the transformation of the outer morphology is not finished at the final larval moult, as generally assumed. Instead the distinct morphology of the adult cuticle forms gradually after this moult. Our study shows that autofluorescence microscopy can be used to document developmental processes inside the pupa, which lead us to conclude that the assumption that the mecopteran pupa is more or less similar to the adult is not supported, nor is the assumption that the transformation of the outer structures during metamorphosis is finished immediately after the final larval moult. While our results remain preliminary we emphasise that the combination of the appropriate method and the right organism can provide new insights into seemingly concealed processes such as the metamorphosis of holometabolous insects.