Monday, January 26, 2015

Boy/girl butterfly

"It slowly opened up, and the wings were so dramatically different, it was immediately apparent what it was," describes retired chemical engineer Chris Johnson, who discovered the butterfly above in the pupa chamber while volunteering at the butterfly exhibit at Drexel University in Philadelphia. The Common Archduke butterfly had just hatched from its chrysalis with its 2 right wings typical of the females of the species (larger and brown with yellow and white spots), but its 2 left wings were typical of the males (smaller and darker with splashes of green, blue, and purple). It is not a hermaphrodite, an organism which has both male and female reproductive organs, but a gynandromorph, which has the outward characteristics of both genders. Because many animals do not exhibit sexual dimorphism, the rare condition is most noticeable in birds and butterflies. Unfortunately, the butterfly was considered an important research subject, so it was isolated and pinned for the entomology collection rather than being allowed to live out its short life. It will be on view until mid-February, but will not have the opportunity to land on your head…

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