Teaching Evolution

A blog devoted to teaching evolution, both in our schools and in our communities.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Butterfly unlocks evolution secret

Scientists have always had a tough time nailing down exactly why and when one species branches off into two. We know that it happens when two groups within the same species stop breeding with each other, but we don't know why that happens, other than that sometimes they get separated geographically. New research into the phenomenon of speciation is focusing on a butterfly family that has unusually distinct wing markings despite living in the same place.

These wing colours apparently evolved as a sort of "team strip", allowing butterflies to easily identify the species of a potential mate.

This process, called "reinforcement", prevents closely related species from interbreeding thus driving them further apart genetically and promoting speciation.

Although scientists have speculated about this mechanism for years, it has rarely been witnessed in nature.


Hat tip: ejswanso.

2 Comments:

At 10:26 AM, Blogger dhodge said...

One of the things that keeps me from losing faith in humanity is the fact that despite all the time we've spent killing people who look/talk/act/think differently than us and the great distances and geographic obstacles that separate different populations, we never managed to speciate. To me, that says that humans are a lot more curious and open-minded than we might give ourselves credit for.

 
At 2:17 PM, Blogger beedubyuh said...

That or, horniness overcomes all.

 

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