Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Metamorphosis

The scientists have been making use of 'high-resolution computed tomography' to capture images of what's going on inside a chrysalis as it makes the astonishing transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. This rather beautiful slideshow takes you through the whole amazing process. Still more amazing perhaps is that memory persists through all this making and unmaking. How does that happen? Well, how does any of it? It's an everyday miracle. As Emily Dickinson succinctly put it:

THE BUTTERFLY’S assumption-gown,
In chrysoprase apartments hung,
This afternoon put on.

How condescending to descend,
And be of buttercups the friend
In a New England town!

The slideshow follows the metamorphosis of an Old World Swallowtail, and Dickinson's poem is probably about the Spicebush or Green-Clouded Swallowtail, whose startlingly arrayed caterpillar is pictured above.

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