Monarch Butterfly Mystery

Monarch Butterfly Mystery

Scientists have been trying to figure out how the North American monarch butterfly, an insect that weighs less than one gram, can fly 4,000 kilometers for two months straight and navigate their trip perfectly without any help from gadgets like compasses or a fancy electronic nav. system. Well, apparently the mystery has finally been solved.

Professor Eli Shlizerman and his team of researchers recently published their findings in the journal Cell Reports. According to Professor Shlizerman, the key to the entire mystery is the butterfly’s antennae. Monarch butterfly’s antennae contain an “intracellular, light-sensitive clock mechanism” that basically works as a compass that calibrates the direction of the sun. The butterflies use their antennae to mark the time of day based on the position of the sun, while their eyes keep track of the sun’s position on the horizon. Used in conjunction, the butterflies have a kind of “internal sun compass” that allows them to consistently fly south by relying on the position of the sun in the sky.

Did you think an insect as simple as a butterfly could have such a complex internal system that acts like a compass? Does this complexity in what would seem to be a simple creature surprise or amaze you?

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