Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Navigational System of the Butterfly

I was looking for a nature article that would relate to today's text, and this one caught my eye (on pg 10 of the 11/08 Awake!) because of the accurate circadian clock of a monarch butterfly. (which I am jealous of, since my circadian clock is so messed up!) lol =)

▪ Using a brain that is about the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen, the monarch butterfly migrates as far as 1,800 miles [3,000 km] from Canada to a small patch of forest in Mexico. How does the insect find its way?

Consider: Monarch butterflies have a solar compass that is fixed to the position of the sun. But there is more. These insects also use a remarkably accurate circadian clock—a biological function based on the 24-hour day—to make corrections for the sun’s movement. Dr. Steven Reppert, a neurobiologist, says that monarch butterflies “have an entirely different way of building a circadian clock than the other insects and animals studied so far.”

Learning more about the secrets of the monarchs’ inner timepiece might give scientists further insight into the circadian clocks of humans and animals. It could also lead to new therapies for neurological afflictions. “I want to understand how the brain incorporates information about time and space,” says Reppert, “and the monarch is a spectacular example.”

What do you think? Is the complex navigational system of the monarch butterfly the product of chance? Or is it evidence of an intelligent Designer?

The Beautiful Moth (another good article from the website)