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Two New Species of Butterfly Discovered in the United States

Two New Species of Butterfly Discovered in the United States

Written by Margaret Badore

The fluttering beauty of butterflies captures the imagination of poets and scientists alike, making them one of the most studied insects. Yet the recent discovery of two new species reminds us that there’s still much we don’t know about butterflies.

Nick Grishin and Qian Cong discovered the new species while studying the genetics of the Carolina Satyr (Hermeuptychia sosybius), a small brown butterfly common in the Eastern United States. The “butterflies looked indistinguishable, were flying together at the same place on the same day, but their DNA molecules were very different from each other,” Grishin†said in a statement. “We thought there was some kind of mistake in our experiments.”

In addition to discovering important differences in the butterflies’ DNA, they also soon discovered differentiating features in the butterflies’ genitalia. Analysis revealed two new species: the Intricate Satyr (Hermeuptychia intricata) and the South Texas Satyr (Hermeuptychia hermybius). Genetic sequencing shows that the South Texas Satyr and Carolina Satyr are closely related, but that the Intricate Satyr is a more distant relative. This relationship is illustrated in the evolutionary tree below.

Nick V. Grishin, Vitaly Charny and Jan Dauphin/CC BY 2.0

Grishin and Cong’s findings are published in the open access journal†ZooKeys. “We were not able to find reliable wing pattern characters to tell a difference between the two species,” they write. “This superficial similarity may explain why†H. intricata, only distantly related to†H. sosybius, has remained unnoticed until now, despite being widely distributed in the coastal plains from South Carolina to Texas.”

This post was originally published in TreeHugger

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Photo Credit: Nick V. Grishin

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81 comments

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4:56PM PDT on Mar 12, 2014

Thank you TreeHugger, for Sharing this!

10:36AM PST on Feb 28, 2014

Interesting!!

6:33PM PST on Feb 27, 2014

ty

2:05PM PST on Feb 27, 2014

Thought these were moths...appreciate them all the same :O)

1:14AM PST on Feb 27, 2014

Very cool, I like butterflys they're beautiful.

8:49AM PST on Feb 26, 2014

Thanks

8:24AM PST on Feb 26, 2014

Wonderful!! And we keep on killing the planet when we have so amazing creatures!!

8:14AM PST on Feb 26, 2014

Thanks for sharing!

2:27AM PST on Feb 26, 2014

Thanks!

2:02AM PST on Feb 26, 2014

thanks

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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