One of the great things about nature, is the ability to change from one thing to another. The change of color is one thing (autumn is here btw), but the change of forms, is something even more amazing. Already as little kids we learned, that the caterpillar changes, sooner or later, to a beautiful butterfly (or a moth, they were somehow left out in the story, don’t know why).
The whole magical process happens in the cocoon, where the caterpillar goes to sleep, and after it wakes up, somehow it finds out that it lost a few pounds, grown wings and is like a completely other species. Since we were young, and many times silenced with a strict “because it is so, stop asking”, the answer should suffice for a time.
But that time is over, my dear seekers in the unknown, your childhood is over, now it’s time to learn something.
First, the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all the tissue. At this stage, the caterpillar is basically liquid. But in this ooze are also contained highly organized cell structures, known as imaginal discs, that the caterpillar develops for each part of the body, that the butterfly will have to use – eyes, wings, legs and so on. Still with me? Great, because now comes the cool part. These imaginal discs use the protein filled post-caterpillar soup around them, to accelerate the growth process of each body part, they are responsible for, thus forming the mature butterfly/moth. Some studies have even proven, that some moths can remember what they have learned as caterpillars. Here is a more complex article on this issue, if you would like to learn more.
And now to the nice-looking part – boderpanda has gathered some really great examples of the whole pre-post metamorphosis process, so take a look.
Glass Winged Butterfly
Hubbard’s Small Silkmoth
via Bored Panda