Butterflies have been appearing in the news a lot due to the fact that we are inadvertently killing them. Increases in agriculture and the continuous urbanisation of our planet have had a serious impact on the population levels of certain species. But there is good news for butterflies too! As it turns out some have evolved into Dual sexed butterflies!
It Was Found in a Museum
At Drexel University there is a museum of natural history that contains a live butterfly exhibit. One of the volunteers here was working on the exhibit when he noticed that one of the Bush butterflies being held there was both male and female.
He discovered this simply by looking at the wings of one individual. Males have wings coloured blue green and black whereas females are coloured brown and yellow containing white spots dotted across the wing. This duel Sex butterfly was aesthetically split right down the middle of the body, in perfect symmetry, with one set of wings being larger and male, and the other set being smaller and female. Upon closer inspection of this dual sex butterfly, it was noticed that the colour difference goes all the way down the body from head to abdomen.
The phenomenon seen in this dual sex butterfly is called bilateral gynandromorphism and is something that occurs during cell division. An error can sometimes occur where one cell gets male chromosomes and one cell gets female chromosomes. From there, all male cells divide into more male ones and all female cells divide into more female ones, splitting the butterfly’s sex right down the middle. It is one of the rarest conditions in nature but amazing to see!