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The sun was low, and I was in the indoor butterfly conservatory at the Zoo late this afternoon, just about to go home when someone said an Atlas Moth had emerged from its pupa. I rushed over to the glassed in display area where they put the pupae that they import from a farm in Costa Rica. I was shocked. A moth with a 12 inch wingspan; the largest in the world. You may have seen one in a gallery like this one. It's unlikely you'd see one in the wild, they're nocturnal, and they're very well camoflauged. I'd been wanting tosee one since I read about them after seeing the pupae in the gallery. I certainly wasn't disappointed. Scientists can only surmise that the incredible wingtip markings are for protection from predators. How does something like this evolve? I've read that evolution is a series of accidents. I believe in evolution, but some things in nature are so incredible as to be almost unbelieveable, humans, for example.
Here's the creature, the head still in the pupa;
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Wow, that's a moth?! How lovely to see such a thing.
Everything in evolution is amazing ... from the eye, to the insects that have evolved to look exactly like the leaves they live on.
Tis a stunning thing.
Quote: I've read that evolution is a series of accidents.
Well a series of tiny mutations. If a mutation gives an individual a slight advantage it is more likely to reproduce and the mutation will carry on its off-spring. If it is not advantageous the individual dies out & the mutation with it.
The tips of that moth look like some sort of snake/lizard, if you were a predator looking for moths then you are much more likely to eat the ones that look more like moths than the ones that look slightly like snakes, so the snakiness gene gets passed on.
On top of that you have sexual selection - lady moths preffer males who look a certain way and so that trait gets exagerated.
Thats my understanding, though I could be wrong as I spent most of my biology lessons trying to do some practical work with the girl who sat next to me in class.
Quote: Thats my understanding, though I could be wrong as I spent most of my biology lessons trying to do some practical work with the girl who sat next to me in class.
Did she select you? Did you evolve with her?
Sometimes something will strike us as being over the top. That's how this moth affected me today. I'm a big fan of all this stuff, and I have many hours of nature videos, but it's the first time I've seen one of these. Glad I did.
So the wingtips just accidently mutated to look like a snake or lizard.......hmmmmm.
Quote: Did she select you? Did you evolve with her?
A gentleman never tells.
Quote: So the wingtips just accidently mutated to look like a snake or lizard.......hmmmmm
No, they first mutated to look very slightly different from the other moths. This gave them an advantage so more of them survived. the predators caught up and started eating these new moths but one had a mutation that put off the predators and so it continues.
Think of it as climbing a mountain, getting to the top looks almost impossible but with a million tiny steps over millions of years you will get there in the end (well you ancestors will - and the ones that don't make it to the top die out).
That would be a weird experience feeling that flap over you in the dark. Normal butterfly enclosures are interesting with the larger ones there flapping around your head - this is about 10 times bigger than those!
My mother-in-law is petrified of moths, so if she saw one this size, it would most probably finish her off. Hmmm, where's the place they are kept!!!!!
Now that nearly every human baby born in the western world survives to maturity, has human evolution stopped?
Doesn't natural selection require the weaker ones or those less less suited to their environment to perish before they breed?
Could somebody please tell me the wisdom of fertility treatment in a world that's in crisis from over-population. Would those who subscribe to the Gaia theory regard reduced human fertility as protection for the planet?
I find it amazing that an Atlas Moth doesn't have a mouth...how has it evolved to be so big, yet doesn't feed?
Quote: Now that nearly every human baby born in the western world survives to maturity, has human evolution stopped?
It probably stopped a long time ago, when we killed off all of our predators and invented farming.
Quote: Doesn't natural selection require the weaker ones or those less less suited to their environment to perish before they breed?
Yes for the mechanism to work. But natural selection is just a mechanism, It doesn't have an objective or end game and is not some sort of moral framework.
Quote: Could somebody please tell me the wisdom of fertility treatment in a world that's in crisis from over-population. Would those who subscribe to the Gaia theory regard reduced human fertility as protection for the planet?
Of course the assumption is that over-population is a problem - some of those extra people could help us solve the problems..
The places where fertility treatment is available seem to corrolate with lower birth rate due to being wealthy. Poverty seems to lead to a higher population, so it seems that poverty is more of an issue than births ?
Quote: A gentleman never tells.
So that's a 'No,' then.
Quote: So that's a 'No,' then.
You are of course right
As a friend once said to me "I always thought I was a failure with women, but you always gave me hope that there was someone worse than me"...thanks chum.
When these emerge and take flight hide they take a large dump...
Was at the Conservatory again this afternoon and had a real treat, 2 of these on the loose. I got several videos and about 300+ images of them, amazing.
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