Saturday, January 05, 2008

Observing Evolution

No Bible Thumpers

The battle of the butterflies and the ants

Parasitic caterpillars show local evolution as never before.

Daniel Cressey in Nature

I'll take this one home: an ant is tricked into caring for a butterly caterpillar.I'll take this one home: an ant is tricked into caring for a butterly caterpillar.courtesy of David Nash

Butterflies that trick ants into helping to raise their young are driving an evolutionary arms race between the two species, researchers have found. The discovery is important to the conservation of rare Alcon blue butterflies, they say.

Maculinea alcon butterflies infect the nests of Myrmica ants by hatching caterpillars nearby, hoping that the caterpillars will be ‘adopted’ and cared for by ants that mistake them for their own young. The caterpillars achieve this by mimicking the surface chemistry of the ants. Getting this chemistry right is important: if an ant doesn’t recognize a caterpillar as one of its own it will eat it, says David Nash, a zoologist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Successfully adopted caterpillars are bad for the ant colonies, as ants may neglect their own young in favour of the intruders. But the ants are fighting back. “The ant larvae seem to be evolving as a result of being parasitized,” says Nash. “It’s an ongoing evolutionary arms race.”

More in Nature after the click ...

My comment: Just another bit of evidence for Creationists to ponder. Darwin's view of Evolution makes much more sense than the theories formulated by bronze age, cattle-sacrificing primitives who believed all the species of animals on planet Earth lived within walking distance of Noah's house.

No comments: