Notum, (plural nota), is a word used to denote an anatomical area in two different groups of invertebrate animals. The word "notum" is always applied to dorsal structures; in other words structures that are part of the back of an animal, as opposed to being part of the animal's ventral surface, or underside.
This word is used in entomology, the study of insects, and in malacology, the study of mollusks. In malacology the word is used to describe the back of the body of the taxonomic group of marine, shell-less gastropods that are known as nudibranchs.
In entomology, the notum is the dorsal portion of an insect's thoracic segment. Typically the notum is a single large sclerite, but often it is divided into the alinotum which bears the wings and the postnotum which bears the phragma. The phragma, or endotergite, is a transverse infolding of the intersegmental sclerite, and its main function is to provide a reinforcing basis of attachment for the dorsal longitudinal muscles. Accordingly phragmata tend to be best developed in actively flying insect species.
In most winged insects, the structure of each successive notum is quite variable; in the Neoptera, the main flight muscles insert on the notum, so the segment that bears the main pair of wings is typically the one with the most highly developed notum. For example, in Diptera, Hymenoptera, and Lepidoptera, the mesonotum is the most hypertrophied sclerite, and is commonly called the scutum. However, there are other groups of insects in which, for reasons other than flight, the pronotum is hypertrophied, such as in all beetles (Coleoptera), and most treehoppers (family Membracidae, order Hemiptera).
In nudibranch gastropods
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