Do butterflies remember life as a caterpillar?

A weird question right? Was watching a nature show on butterflies a few days ago and thought of this.

So I’ve learned that moths and butterflies can remember what they learned as caterpillars, a study from 2008 reveals. The findings challenge the accepted theory that the insects, brains and all, are completely rewired during metamorphosis, and may provide clues about neural development.Practically everything about the two phases of the organism are so different – morphology, diet, how they move, and what they sense,” said Martha Weiss of Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

Seventy-eight percent of the caterpillars that were shocked directly after exposure avoided the compound in subsequent tests while still in the larval stage. The tests were conducted inside a Y-shaped pipe that allowed the animals to choose an area smelling of ethyl acetate or of unadulterated air.

About a month later, after the caterpillars had metamorphosed, the adult moths were given the same choice test. Seventy-seven percent of them avoided the ethyl acetate pipe, suggesting that the lesson learned as a caterpillar is remembered as an adult.

Now beyond learning this, capturing metaphorical impacts could help scientists understand the population dynamics of wild caterpillars, how they select habitats, and ultimately how populations evolve. Although vertebrates such as humans and invertebrates such as caterpillars are quite different, “It might be possible to look at metamorphosis, which involves an extensive reorganization of the nervous system, and maybe use those results to look at brain reorganization in vertebrates after damage such as a stroke,” .

I believe personally, this is a stretch but it shouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility.

Your Thoughts?


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