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A tale of (more than) 2 butterflies
Date:9/12/2011

pecies interbreed to create viable hybrids that then evolve on their own.

It can occur when two young species haven't yet evolved over a long enough period to be completely reproductively isolated.

Kunte says this is probably the case with these tiger swallowtails.

The Eastern and Canadian tigers diverged from each other a mere 600,000 years ago. The Appalachian tiger seems to have diverged from both parental species only about 100,000 years ago.

"That's not a very long time," says Kunte, "but still we found that the Appalachian tiger has been isolated long enough to have a different appearance and genetic makeup than its parent species."

As for identifying the species in the wild, Appalachian tigers are twice the size of Canadian tigers. Kunte says it's more difficult to tell apart the Eastern and Appalachian tigers.

The Eastern tiger has more blue on the hind wing and a spotted yellow band on its fore wing underside compared with a solid broad band on the Appalachian tiger.

"Once you train your eyes to tell them apart," says Kunte, "they are relatively easy to distinguish."


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Contact: Cheryl Dybas
cdybas@nsf.gov
703-292-7734
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3

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