Saturday, 28 June 2014

Intelligent Design in Butterflies: Magnetic Compass Guides Their Flight

Image courtesy of Kenneth Dwain Harrelson, Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Monarch butterflies have a tiny brain but they are by no means stupid. On the contrary, they are astoundingly clever. A news item in Nature shows us how:

On overcast days, monarch butterflies use a magnetic compass to find their way south, making them one of only a few migratory insects known to sense Earth's magnetic field. The eastern North American monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) use the Sun to guide them from southern Canada and the United States towards Mexico, but they still manage to fly in the correct direction on cloudy days.”

Steven Reppert at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and colleagues found this out by using a flight simulator, which was “inside an artificial magnetic field.”

Now, before anyone says evolution did it, one might reasonably conclude that this is an example of an intelligently designed system in nature.


Magnetic compass guides butterflies. Nature 510, 446 (26 June, 2014).