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They have a relatively small head and a broad, flattened body, and most species are reddish-brown to dark brown.
They have large compound eyes, two ocelli, and long, flexible antennae.
This evidence supported a hypothesis suggested in 1934 that termites are closely related to the wood-eating cockroaches (genus Cryptocercus).
Cockroaches are insects of the order Blattodea, which also includes termites.
About 30 cockroach species out of 4,600 are associated with human habitats. The cockroaches are an ancient group, dating back at least as far as the Carboniferous period, some 320 million years ago.
This hypothesis was originally based on similarity of the symbiotic gut flagellates in termites regarded as living fossils and wood-eating cockroaches.
Other scientists have taken a more conservative approach, proposing to retain the termites as the Termitoidea, an epifamily within the order.