Bilateral Gynandromorphy: A Rare Case Which Butterflies Manifest Both Male and Female Wings


Butterflies are considered as one of the most beautiful of God’s creations. If you see something that will really inspire you, one of them I’m sure would be butterflies.

Now what would your first reaction be if you see a butterfly that is something out of ordinary? I mean like having a double body or a twin head? Well, nothing of that sort happened to Chris Johnson. He is a volunteer at the Academy of Natural Sciences for a long time. What he saw he saw was a butterfly which has one male and one female wings. According to him he had never seen something like it before.

He was doing his daily morning rounds last October at the at the live butterfly exhibit when he chanced upon the unique-looking orange colored butterfly. He came to notice the odd-looking creature while he was taking out the butterflies from a special container where they are supposed to be raised after breaking out of their chrysalis.

A retired Swarthmore engineer, Johnson said that he was so surprised when the butterfly started spreading its wings. It has both the male and female wings which is out of ordinary.

He described the wings as follows. The right wing cluster which is the female set, is colored brown adorned with tiny yellow polka dots, and on the other hand, the left side wings, which is the male part, is tad smaller, is colored black arrayed in green, blue and purple specks. When he saw the extraordinary butterfly it gave him goosebumps. He was so surprised saying he wasn’t expecting to see something like it.

Experts explained that the condition is rare indeed but there were previous cases similar to it. They used the term bilateral gynandromorphy to describe it. This usually happens during the butterfly formation when something goes wrong in the first cell division.

This condition occurs just right after the egg is fertilized resulting in the presence of two chromosomes, one male and one female. The butterfly will also have one male reproductive organ on one side and the female reproductive organ on the other side with the corresponding male and female cells.

This is not unique to insects or butterflies. This also occurs in birds which are classified under vertebrates.

In the twenty years he’s has been working at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Jason Weintraub, an entomology collection manager and a lepidopterist said, this is the only time he saw a condition such as this.

The unique butterfly will be on display at the Academy of Natural Sciences beginning January 17.




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