Illustra Media’s trilogy of documentaries only began to uncover the wonders of life. Here are updates on the series’ featured animals, this one on butterflies.
Watch an amazing time-lapse video of butterfly wings developing in the chrysalis made by Nipam Patel of University of California at Berkeley. His lab assistant was able to extract tissue and grow it under the microscope.
In PNAS, Japanese scientists discuss the elaborate chemical dance going on during insect metamorphosis. Here’s just enough jargon to indicate how complex the process is in silkworm moths: “Based on these results, we propose a mechanism in which JH-inducible Kr-h1 directly binds to the KBS site upstream of the E93 locus to repress its transcription in a cell-autonomous manner, thereby preventing larva from bypassing the pupal stage and progressing to precocious adult development.” You get the idea. Figuring all this out could keep PhD scientists busy for a long time, but caterpillars know just what to do.
All insects undergo metamorphosis, some not quite as complete as those of butterflies. Live Science shows new X-ray images of the “dramatic physical transformation” of bluebottle blowfly maggots from pupae into adults. (Since this species of fly plays a key role in body decay and quickly finds decomposing flesh, forensic scientists often use their presence as clues for time of death.)
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