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An elytron (plural: elytra) is a modified, hardened forewing of certain insect orders, notably beetles (Coleoptera) and true bugs (Hemiptera). An elytron is sometimes also referred to as a shard.

The elytra primarily serve as protection for the hindwings underneath, which are used for flying. In some groups, the elytra are fused together, rendering the insect flightless. Some of the ground beetles (family Carabidae) are a good example of this.

The term is also used to describe the hard scales of some polychaete worms, notably the Polynoidae.[1] These outgrowths of the body wall are distinguished from chaeta, which grow from follicles and thus posses roots.[2]


  1. ^ Brusca, R.C.; Brusca, G.J. (1990). Invertebrates. 
  2. ^ Butterfield, N.J.. "Exceptional Fossil Preservation and the Cambrian Explosion". Integrative and Comparative Biology 43 (1): 166-177. doi:[0166EFPATC2 10.1668/1540-7063(2003)043[0166EFPATC]2].
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Elytron". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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