An extremely rare butterfly which is half male and half female will be displayed by the Academy of Natural Sciences at the Drexler University from January 17 to February 16. The rare butterfly belonging to the Lexias pardalis species is an inhabitant of the Southeast Asian rain forests.

The unique characteristic of the species is due to an anomaly called ‘bilateral gynandromorphy’ a condition usually observed in bird and butterfly species as per Jason Weintraub, Entomology Collection Manager and Lepidopterist. Weintraub also added “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.”

The uncommon feature was first noticed by Chris Johnson, a volunteer for the university’s Academy of Natural Sciences in the month of October when he was attending an exhibition on butterflies. He was stunned to see the unusual traits exhibited by the butterfly as it emerged out of its cocoon right in front of his eyes.

“It slowly opened up, and the wings were so dramatically different, it was immediately apparent what it was,” Johnson, a retired chemical engineer from Swarthmore, said in a statement. “I thought: Somebody’s fooling with me. It’s just too perfect.”

Typical to a female butterfly, the creature in front of Johnson had two brown right wings with yellow dots. The left wings, at the same time, were a darker shade and had purple, green and blue marks- characteristic of a male.

“The right wings were shaped differently than the left wings, and the body’s coloration was exactly split lengthwise down the middle as half male and half female,” Johnson later told.

Johnson picked up the unique creature and handed it over to Entomology Collection Manager for further research. After their lepidopterist Jason Weintraub saw it, he confirmed it to be a case of bilateral gynandromorphy.


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