One hundred seven external and internal characters of larval and adult representatives of 28 genera of the coleopteran suborders were analyzed cladistically. Four groups of Neuropterida were introduced as outgroup. The analysis yielded 18 trees with a minimum of 194 steps (Cl 0.691). All trees support the monophyly of all four suborders and a branching pattern (Archostemata + (Adephaga + (Myxophaga + Polyphaga))). The presence of elytra with meso- and metathoracic locking devices, the specific hind-wing folding, the close connection of exposed sclerites, the absence of the mera, the absence of eight thoracic muscles, the reduced abdominal sternite I, and the invagination of terminal segments are autapomorphies of Coleoptera. The monophyly of Coleoptera excl. Archostemata is supported by further transformations of the thoracic sclerites such as absence of the mesothoracic discriminal line and katepisternal joint, by an internalized or absent metathoracic trochantin, by the presence of a bending zone in the hind-wing, and by eight further muscle losses. Fusion of tibia and tarsus and presence of a single claw are larval synapomorphies of Myxophaga and Polyphaga. Adults are characterized by fusion of protrochantin and propleura and by the rigid connection of the meso- and metathoracic ventrites. The eucinetoid lineage of Polyphaga is characterized by the secondary absence of the bending zone of the alae. This results in a distinctly simplified wing folding mechanism. The monophyly of Cucujiformia (+ Bostrichoidea) issupported by the presence of cryptonephric Malpighian tubules. Transformations of fore-and hind-wings, reinforcement and simplification of the thoracic exoskeleton, and an efficient use of a distinctly reduced set of thoracic muscles play an important role in the early evolution of Coleoptera. Many different larval character transformations take place in the earlier Mesozoic within the suborders, © 2000 The Willi Hennig Society.
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