Brown, William L., Jr. Formerly, Department of Entomology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
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An order of ancestrally wingless insects, commonly known as bristletails, in the subclass Apterygota; about 350 species are known in the two families, Machilidae and Meinertellidae. All have slender, spindle-shaped bodies of about 0.4–0.8 in. (1–2 cm) in length, tapered tailward to a long, multisegmented median caudal filament and paired cerci. The relatively thin integument is covered with pigmented scales after the first instar. The antennae are long and filiform, without intrinsic musculature in the flagellum, as in all true insects; and large, contiguous compound eyes are accompanied by a trio of ocelli. The mandibles are exposed and attached to the cranium by a single joint (condyle), and the maxillary palpi are extended, with seven segments, while the labial palpi have only three segments. Each leg has a large coxa, two-segmented trochanter, femur, tibia, and a two- or three-segmented tarsus terminating in a two-clawed pretarsus. The posterior pair or two pairs of coxae and most of the ventral abdominal coxites bear styles, which may represent modified legs. Outwardly projecting vesicles that are apparently water absorbing also occur on most coxites. Internally, the gut is relatively simple, with small crop, digestive ceca, and a dozen or more Malpighian tubules. The nervous system is primitive, with three thoracic and eight abdominal ganglia and twin connectives. Tracheae are well developed.
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