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Here's a dangerous, crazy thought from an otherwise sober (and very eminent) biologist, Bernd Heinrich. He's thinking about moths and butterflies, and how they radically change shape as they grow, from little wormy, caterpillar critters to airborne beauties. Why, he wondered, do these flying animals begin their lives as wingless, crawling worms? Baby ducks have wings. Baby bats have wings. Why not baby butterflies?
His answer — and I'm quoting him here — knocked me silly.
"[T]he radical change that occurs," he says, "does indeed arguably involve death followed by reincarnation."
So he says it again: "[T]he adult forms of these insects are actually new organisms."
I'm sorry. Maybe I didn't hear that right ...
"In effect, the animal is a chimera, an amalgam of two, where the first one lives and dies ... and then the other emerges."
Originally posted by davidchin
I wouldn't go as far as saying they're two different creatures. It's part of their DNA "programming". Those insects that have a pupa phase (in a coccoon or as a chrysalis or another form of pupa) seem to do this a lot. They start off like worms with feet (or other short appendages) that go about eating to get larger. Eventually, the older outside form is either shed or otherwise cast off to get to the pupa stage where the creature lies dormant while it forms a new set of legs and wings (in many cases). When the adult form (butterfly/moth/fly/beetle/etc) emerges, it does not resemble the larval (caterpillar/maggot/grub/etc) form, but it is still the same creature with no new DNA changes. It's not like another creature consumed the caterpillar and grew into a butterfly while the caterpillar died. You can verify this by the fact that it is the adult (not the larva) that lays the eggs that then hatch as caterpillars.
It's just neat thinking about these creatures.
From the outside it appears as though the pupa, also known as the chrysalis, is resting. In reality the larval tissues completely break down and reorganize rapidly within the pupal skin.
The first thing that happens is that a lot of the caterpillar’s old body dies. It is attacked by the same sort of juices the caterpillar used in its earlier life to digest its food and it would not be far wrong to say the caterpillar digests itself from the inside out. This process is called ‘histolysis'. Not all the tissue is destroyed however some of the insect’s old tissue passes on to its new self.
Originally posted by grey580
I think he's pointing out that it's a creature with two sets of DNA?
That one dies. And the other is reborn.
Very interesting stuff.
Originally posted by Phage
reply to post by OccamsRazor04
Indeed. If Heinrich did say that there is different DNA in the caterpillar and butterfly it would have been time to ignore everything else. But he didn't say that. He said that some of the active genes (within the same DNA) are different and that makes sense.
The reincarnation aspect is sort of odd though and so is the idea that long ago a caterpillar mated with a butterfly (sort of).edit on 8/5/2012 by Phage because: (no reason given)