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Researchers discover supergene that controls a butterfly’s mimicry patterns

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Heliconius numata (top) and its co-mimic Melinaea mneme (bottom)/Mathieu Chouteau.

From “Research reveals how butterflies copy their neighbors to fool birds” Eurekalert, 4-Aug-2011, we learn:

The mystery of how a butterfly has changed its wing patterns to mimic neighbouring species and avoid being eaten by birds has been solved by a team of European scientists.

Dogmatic Darwinists have always demanded that the public believe that it happened through the magic of natural selection, slowly emerging – wing panel by wing panel. Now a science-based answer has emerged. The researchers chose butterfly species Heliconius numata, which, at one site in the rainforest, mimics several species, thus featuring a variety of wing patterns.

The researchers located and sequenced the chromosomal region responsible for the wing patterns in H. numata. The butterfly’s wing-pattern variation is controlled by a single region on a single chromosome, containing several genes which control the different elements of the pattern.

Known as a ‘supergene’, this clustering allows genetic combinations that are favoured for their mimetic resemblance to be maintained, while preventing combinations that produce non-mimetic patterns from arising.

The researchers found that three versions of the same chromosome coexist in this species, each version controlling distinct wing-pattern forms. This has resulted in butterflies that look completely different from one another, despite having the same DNA.

The researchers pay homage at Darwin’s shrine, of course, leaving unaddressed the likelihood that such an elaborate, inbuilt signal system develops solely from natural selection acting on random mutations.  What about lateral gene transfer?

Lateral gene transfer, if it can be shown to have occurred,  spares us boatloads of Darwinian storytelling in favour of facts.

What is the mechanism in real nature to make butterflies mimic others however? Genes being discovered says nothing. No its not from selection on mutations but there must be some trigger to be johnny on the spot for these creatures? I think there is but its not figured out yet. Robert Byers

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