Leggy beetles show how insects lost limbs

3:22pm, October 21, 2002

A beetle larva with a chorus line of legs is spotlighting the evolutionary steps that insects took to get from multilimbed centipedes to the six-legged specimens common today.

Evolving from millipede to beetle is a genetic two-step, say biologist Randy L. Bennett of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The researchers discovered that suppressing a couple of genes in grubs of the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum, could make the larvae grow extra legs.

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