Johnson said he discovered the rare butterfly during his morning rounds at the live butterfly exhibit back in October. He said that he found the strange-looking insect as he was removing the butterflies from a special chamber, where the butterflies need to be after they come out of their chrysalises.
Johnson, who is a retired Swarthmore engineer, said that when the butterfly spread its wings he was totally surprised of what he saw. The butterfly had both female and male wings, something which is very uncommon.
The right set of wings, the female side, is brown and has little yellow spots, while the left side of its wings, the male side, is a little smaller, with green, blue and purple spots, on a black background.
Johnson said that when he first saw the rare butterfly with half-male half-female wings, it gave him goosebumps and he was deeply surprised. He said the he was not expecting to see anything like it.
Experts say that although this is extremely rare, it’s not the first case. The condition is called bilateral gynandromorphy and occurs when the butterfly is forming and there is a problem with the first cell division. This happens right after the egg has been fertilized, which results in both female and male chromosomes in the cells.
If bilateral gynandromorphy occurs, the butterfly will have male cells and reproductive organs on one side and female ones on the other.
The condition occurs in both insects and vertebrates, most frequently in winged insects and some birds, resulting in different markings and color patterns on their wings, both female and male.
Jason Weintraub, an entomology collection manager and a lepidopterist who works at the Academy of Natural Sciences said this is the first time he has ever witnessed this condition in more than twenty years since he’s been at the Academy.
The rare butterfly with half-male and half-female wings will be displayed at the Academy of Natural Sciences starting January 17.
Image Source: cnet