This article is excerpted from my book. I just ran into the Insect Man, Mr. Karl Priest, online and asked him to look it over. He corrected one thing and I passed! Enjoy
Ever seen evolutionary drawings of an animal slowly morphing into something bigger and better? How did it grow new eyeballs, ears, or a spleen? People will tell you, “slowly, very slowly. Well, not too slowly or we would see fossils showing evolution happens. So, after around 100,000 years or so.”
To picture this, we’ll have to pretend mutations don’t always break things. Let’s look at some common insects.
Have you ever raised a butterfly? Watching the change from a squirmy, fat caterpillar to a beautiful winged insect is mind-blowing. In the past, some people thought they weren’t even the same creature, but they are!
How does the caterpillar know to make the chrysalis? How can it survive when its cells are being turned to soup for the developing adult to absorb? There are some scientists who spend their whole career studying these processes, trying to better understand what’s going on and how (Butterfly scientists are called lepidopterologists [ lep-ih-dop-ter-ol-oh-gist)
When a caterpillar squeezes out of its last skin, it loses everything it once was. Its head comes completely off and every part of its body, including the legs, gets broken down to mush. All that remains are a heart and little spots called “imaginal discs” which begin to build the new adult body.
You already know how different a butterfly looks from its old body. A caterpillar can see dark and light, but a butterfly can see every color we do and more. The caterpillar has munching jaws; a butterfly has a curl-up straw to drink with. They also have long, delicate legs to taste their food with. And then there are the wings; the caterpillar didn’t have anything close to them!
The butterfly isn’t an unusual kind of bug either. Moths, flies, lacewings, caddisflies, bees, wasps, fleas, beetles, and ants all transform from larva with a wormlike body to a completely different adult.
I had to look around for a video that wasn’t about Monarchs. Much as I love them (have you ever seen their newly formed chrysalis up close? It’s one of the finest jewels in the universe!), there are 1,00s of other butterflies to enjoy.
Notes: watch the caterpillar squirm around as it’s chrysalis dries, it’s stretching it into the shape the butterfly needs it to be.
You will also see how the chrysalis has hints of the body and wing shapes from the beginning. It’s kind of like a shaped container making it easier on the developing bug.
Then, check out how fat the abdomen of the newly hatched butterfly is. It doesn’t stay that shape long since it quickly pumps a lot of that fluid into the wings. It’s a lot like a blow up toy, except filling with fluid instead of air. Cool stuff!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise Him in the heights!
Beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! Psalm 148:1,10
For more about butterflies’ life cycles, check out:
The Butterfly Site: Monarch Life Cycle
Kid’s San Diego Zoo: Butterflies