The Drexel University of Philadelphia believed that January would be a good month to have a museum exhibition of butterflies, named simply: “Butterflies!” They expected a large number of visitors and of course, new cocoons coming to life. Their grand surprise was to see that from one of the beautiful cocoons, a strange and spectacular butterfly was born. It had two completely different wings and after a thorough investigation, both a male and a female genre! Chris Johnson, the one who discovered the butterfly, was stunned.
The left side of the butterfly is brown, with yellow spots – characteristics of a female butterfly, and the right side is black, with orange sports and beautiful green, blue and purple coloring on the extremities, definitely a male. The body is also separately colored: the differences are perfectly seen on the two sides of it.
The butterfly was identified as being a Lexias perdalis, even if it doesn’t really have a standard colloquial name, and they decided to display it loudly from the 17th of January and until the 16th of February, in the Drexel University’s Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia as it surely deserves by nature.
Entomology Collection Manager and lepidopterist Jason Weintraub analyzed the exquisite creature in order to find the cause of this unusual appearance. He found that it has a rare condition: bilateral gynandromorphy. He stated that
“Gynandromorphism is most frequently noticed in bird and butterfly species where the two sexes have very different coloration. It can result from non-disjunction of sex chromosomes, an error that sometimes occurs during the division of chromosomes at a very early stage of development.”
This condition can be easily overlooked at a lot of butterflies, because of the many similarities, or even look-alikes between male and female of the same species. This is the main reason they were so stunned at the Drexel University – the two halves of this particular butterfly were dramatically different.
It is thought that the beautiful specimen has been shipped as a pupa from Malaysia in October, along with other butterflies. Penang Island, its birth home, has a tropical rainforest climate and is famous for hosting a very successful Butterfly farm. Its motto is “Devotion to nature conservation, environmental sustainability and community”. Their purposes are to conserve the species and providing with state-of-art exhibitions that portrays the beauty of nature. That is why the rare butterfly reached Pennsylvania borders.
Image Source: Discovery News