Quantitative complementation tests provide a quick test of the hypothesis that a particular gene contributes to segregating phenotypic variation. A set of wild-type alleles is assayed for variation in their ability to complement the degree of dominance of the quantitative effect of a loss of function allele. Analysis of 15 loci known to be involved in wing patterning in Drosophila melanogaster suggests that the genes decapentaplegic, thickveins, EGFR, argos and hedgehog, each of which are involved in secreted growth factor signaling, may contribute to wing shape variation. The phenotype of one deficiency, Df(2R)Px2, which removes blistered/Plexate, is also highly sensitive to the wild-type genetic background and at intermediate expressivity reveals six ectopic veins. These form in the same locations as a projection of the ancestral pattern of dipteran wing veins on- to the D. melanogaster wing. This atavistic phenotype indicates that the wing vein prepatterning mechanism can be conserved in highly derived species, and implies that homoplasic venation patterns may be produced by derepression of vein primordia.