, Volume 70, Issue 9, pp 451-461

Portrait of an Asian stalk-eyed fly

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Abstract

Diopsid flies have eyes set on stalks which are in some cases so long that the distance between the eyes exceeds the body length. These conspicuous structures have given rise to much speculation about their adaptive value, but there are very few actual observations by which to judge these hypotheses.Cyrtodiopsis whitei Curran lives in the tropical rainforest of Malaysia. We describe a number of aspects of its morphology and biology, some functional properties of the eye, and the ritualized fights between males, by which harems are acquired. The evolutionary significance of the eyestalks is discussed: they represent structures subjected to a double selection pressure; they are an adaptation by which a sensory system is better matched to the special problems encountered in a densely structured habitat (in that the field of view is extended and the ability to estimate distance and size and to identify objects at a large distance is improved), also they act as key stimulus for species recognition and as releaser for intraspecific behaviour.

In Memoriam Karl von Frisch