Volume 7 (2011) Pages 21-28
Insects, the largest group of animals on the earth, owe their prosperity to their ability of flight and small body sizes. The ability of flight provided means for rapid translocation. The small body size allowed access to unutilized niches. By acquiring both features, however, insects faced a new problem: They were forced to beat their wings at enormous frequencies. Insects have overcome this problem by inventing asynchronous flight muscle, a highly specialized form of striated muscle capable of oscillating at >1,000 Hz. This article reviews the structure, mechanism, and molecular evolution of this unique invention of nature.