Posted by: Jennifer | July 12, 2011

a butterfly that’s from Mars AND Venus

Sometimes genetics can throw everyone for a loop. Even butterflies are not immune to Mother Nature’s whims:

A stunning butterfly that emerged from its chrysalis as male on one side, female on the other, has astounded curators at the Natural History Museum in London.

The peculiar nature of the freshly hatched great mormon butterfly was spotted when staff noticed a striking difference between its wing colourings and other features.

[…]”It’s an amazing butterfly. The split is purely bilateral – even the colour of one side of its body is slightly different,” said Luke Brown, manager of Sensational Butterflies. “It has half-male, half-female sexual organs welded together. So they don’t work, it is infertile.”

Insects can be born gynandromorphs – with male and female cells – when sex chromosomes fail properly to separate when the fertilised egg divides. Around one in ten thousand butterflies is a gynandromorph. Many dual-sex butterflies probably go unnoticed, because the males and females look alike.

Am I the only one who can hear Professor X’s monologue from the start of X-Men in my head right now?

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