Sharp (1898), the marked divergence among the Hexapoda, as regards life-history, is between insects whose wings develop outside the cuticle (Exopterygota) and those whose wings develop inside the cuticle (Endopterygota), becoming visible only when the casting of the last larval cuticle reveals the pupa.
Hence the grouping of the orders of winged Hexapoda into the divisions Exopterygota and Endopterygota, as suggested by D.
Fragmentary as the records are, they show that the Exopterygota preceded the Endopterygota in the evolution of the class, and that among the Endopterygota those orders in which the greatest difference exists between imago and larva - the Lepidoptera, Diptera and Hymenoptera - were the latest to take their rise.
None of the groups of existing Endopterygota have been traced with certainty farther back than the Mesozoic epoch, and all the numerous Palaeozoic insect-fossils seem to belong to forms that possessed only imperfect metamorphosis.
In Endopterygota the wings commence their development as invaginations of the hypodermis, while in Exopterygota the wings begin - and always remain - as external folds or evaginations.
The two modes of growth are directly opposed, and at first sight it appears that this fact negatives the view that Endopterygota have been derived from Exopterygota.
Endopterygota - of insects of the present epoch are descended from the predominant - if not the sole - group that existed in the Palaeozoic epoch, viz.
The first hypothesis is not negatived by direct evidence, for we do not actually know the ontogeny of any of the Palaeozoic insects; it is, however, rendered highly improbable by the modern views as to the nature and origin of wings in insects, and by the fact that the Endopterygota include none of the lower existing forms of insects.
The Apterygogenea of Brauer and others, though we prefer the shorter term Apterygota) - is rendered improbable from the fact that existing Apterygota are related to Exopterygota, not to Endopterygota, and by the knowledge that has been gained as to the morphology and development of wings, which suggest that - if we may so phrase it - were an apterygotous insect gradually to develop wings, it would be on the exopterygotous system.
From all points of view it appears, therefore, probable that Endopterygota are descended from Exopterygota, and we are brought to the question as to the way in which this has occurred.
The change that is required to transform Exopterygota into Endopterygota is merely that a cell of hypodeimis should proliferate inwards instead of outwards, or that a minute hypodermal evaginated bud should be forced to the interior of the body by the pressure of a contracted cuticle.
If it should be objected that the wings so developed would be rudimentary, and that there would be nothing to encourage their development into perfect functional organs, we may remind the reader that we have already pointed out that imperfect wings of Exopterygota do, even at the present time under certain conditions, become perfect organs; and we may also add that there are, even among existing Endopterygota, species in which the wings are usually vestiges and yet sometimes become perfectly developed.
The sub-imago of the Ephemeroptera suggests that a moult, after the wings had become functional, was at one time general among the Hexapoda, and that the resting nymph of the Thysanoptera or the pupa of the Endopterygota represents a formerly active stage in the life-history.
For in the post-embryonic development of the ancestors of the Endopterygota we may imagine two or three instars with wing-rudiments to have existed, the last represented by the sub-imago of the may-flies.
The importance of great cardinal features of the life-history as indicative of relationship leads us to consider the Endopterygota as a natural assemblage of orders.
In this view we are confirmed by the impossibility of deriving the Endopterygota from any living order of Exopterygota.
In all the remaining orders of the Endopterygota the larva is eruciform or vermiform.
They differ from other Endopterygota in the multiplication of their Malpighian tubes, and from all other Hexapoda in the union of the first abdominal segment with the thorax.
Sub-class Endopterygota Order Neuroptera.