taxonomic infraclass of winged insects without a certain form of wing-folding

The Palaeoptera is the group of primitive (basal) winged insects which do not fold the wings back over the abdomen, as Neoptera do. Most of them are extinct; the living ones are the Ephemeroptera (mayflies) and Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies).

Temporal range: Carboniferous – Recent
The Green Drake (Ephemera danica), a mayfly (Ephemeroptera: Ephemeridae)
Scientific classification

Odonatoptera [1]
Palaeodictyopteroidea (extinct; disputed)

The Palaeoptera may not be monophyletic: the issue is not yet settled. On the other hand, the Neoptera definitely are monophyletic.

The absence of wing-folding does not necessarily mean the Palaeoptera form a natural group. They may just be a group of insects that "are not Neoptera", in other words, a wastebasket taxon. As it stands, the relationship of the two living Paleopteran groups to the Neoptera is unclear.[2][3][4]

Probably the concept of Palaeoptera will be changed to better reflect insect evolution. In any case, three main palaeopteran lineages, traditionally treated as superorders, are recognized. Of these, the Palaeodictyopteroidea themselves might also be a paraphyletic assemblage of very basal Pterygota.


Infraclass PalaeopteraEdit

(probably paraphyletic)

Related pagesEdit


  1. Called Odonatoidea in some treatments
  2. Maddison, David R. 2002. Tree of Life Web Project. Pterygota: winged insects Archived 2017-06-10 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2008-Dec-15.
  3. Trueman, John W.H. 2008. Tree of Life Web Project. Pterygote higher relationships Archived 2017-07-15 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Trueman, John W.H. & Rowe, Richard J. 2008. Tree of Life Web Project. Odonata: dragonflies and damselflies Archived 2019-11-30 at the Wayback Machine