Butterflies – Two in One

Eastern-Black-Swallowtail-1

Why do these flying creatures begin their lives as wingless, multi mini-legged worm-like caterpillars? Did you ever stop and really wonder about this? Sure we learn as children about metamorphosis, but do you know it is really a complex process that questions the very nature of life and death?

The caterpillar contains DNA that encodes for both body forms – a kind of two-in-one organism.

During metamorphosis, a different set of genes are activated that change and reorganize the caterpillar body shape to produce the final butterfly body shape. Some genes are expressed in both body forms though. Others dissolve. Pretty weird thought no?

That little chrysalis is like a tiny coffin hanging off the tree, the insides of the caterpillar turning to mush (organs even dissolve), reorganizing to create something completely different.  I wonder if the caterpillar is even cognizant of what is happening and what it will eventually become? Does it remember being a caterpillar? Remarkably, it seems memory can survive metamorphosis. (source)

This process really does make one conjure up questions without answers. Even laying the eggs, the butterfly is not there to see what pops out. It really makes our understanding of the way we go through life seem so linear. Beginning and end, or does our consciousness survive our temporal end? Questions without empirical answers.

Here is a link to a really controversial theory that very few scientists would ever support, but how many great scientific ideas start that way, where others think the one with the crazy idea is well, just crazy? Fun to think about it though. Are Butterflies Two Different Creatures? The Death and Resurrection Theory. Could looking at metamorphosis and turning into a soupy mush shed some light on our beginnings? We all started in a soupy mix 4.5 billion years ago, so science tells us. How about our soupy demise?

No matter the science or reality behind it, nature really has created some beautiful creatures. Click to see these works of nature.

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15 Responses to Butterflies – Two in One

  1. alesiablogs says:

    I like the idea a two for one deal…..Beautiful shots!

  2. Excellent post, as usual Donna. Your pics are always wonderful. Do you teach anywhere? If not, you should.

  3. Beautiful images. Of course the evidence of ‘Intelligent Design’ is all around us and even the likes of Richard Dawkins admit that nature gives the ‘appearance’ of design. Nature cannot produce itself randomly out of nothing …. it needs the input of information first , just as we ourselves do when we create anything – we need to know what we’re doing!

  4. The whole idea of genes turning on and off is fascinating. My daughter is doing research in that area in humans. Great photos, as always!

  5. My Heartsong says:

    First one is an outstanding shot.

  6. A.M.B. says:

    Yes, these are beautiful creatures! I can see my children–who love butterflies–asking me some of these questions in the future. I’m going to bookmark this post!

  7. Amazing creatures… works of art! 🙂

  8. I have often wondered about butterflies and how they begin and end…fascinating ideas. And wonderful pictures of this vast array of beauties.

  9. Aquileana says:

    Amazing pics… Totally outstanding, Donna:D
    Best wishes to you, Aquileana 😛

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