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Picture Post: Strange ‘dual sex’ moth

dual sex moth NHM.JPG

This is a rare example of a gynandromorph moth, recently hatched at the Natural History Museum in London. While the left wings of this Antheraea frithi are female, the right wings are clearly male.

“Gynandromorphs are incredibly rare,” says museum moth researcher Ian Kitching (press release). “We only have 200 such specimens in our collection of some 9 million butterflies and moths.”

Sadly for this poor moth, there really is a dividing line down its body. The female half has a partial set of female organs and the male half a partial set of male organs. Neither function.

“The bilateral gynandromorphy that this moth shows is the result of an error involving the sex chromosomes at the first cell division,” says Kitching. “Sometimes, such errors occur later in development, whence the gynandromorphy is mosaic and the separation into the two sexes isn’t so clearly defined.”

Image: Natural History Museum


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    Robin said:

    That is incredibly cool. I never knew such a phenomenon existed.

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    Riqui said:

    i think this is one of the most amazing things about nature . it allows mistakes to not be seen as mistakes but to be seen in a different light . it’s extraordinary how there is a line separating the male and female organs and how distinct and obvious it is to the naked eye . the moth, both male and female, is a gorgeous species and though it is rare, it is wonderful . i love it’s beauty .

    this must be one of the reasons i would like to major in science .

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