"And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"
We don't often associate aggressive behavior and the need to fight with butterflies. Rather we think of bright, beautiful creatures that decorate nature and always seem to cheer people up.
Scientists have always assumed that the bright-colored wings of butterflies served the purpose of attracting a mate. However, new research on tropical butterflies calls that idea into question. Researchers carefully changed the colors of male butterflies' wings, even painting patterns on them that were wrong for the species. When it came time for mating, females treated the disguised males the same as other males. It appeared as though the females paid no attention at all to the colors and patterns on the males' wings.
What practical purposes do the patterns serve then? Scientists know that they help predators avoid poisonous butterflies. They know that certain patterns deter birds. Many male butterflies tend to be aggressive with each other and very territorial. However, butterflies are so fragile that almost any injury in a fight would be fatal. Rather than fight, male butterflies assert themselves by showing their wings to each other in something like a ritualized combat.
A universal standard of beauty is not something evolution could have produced. Butterflies are lovely, living ornaments with which the Creator and Author of all beauty has adorned His creation.
Notes: L. Langley. "Butterfly Colors: Alluring or Alarming?" Science News, Vol. 121, p. 38.
Photo: Swallowtail, taken by creationist and photographer Robert Zuvich. Used by permission.
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