This Butterfly Is Half Male and Half Female

Papilioandrogeus mosaic gynandromorph - Photo by Notafly
Papilioandrogeus mosaic gynandromorph. Photo by Notafly.

This butterfly is both male and female.

In the animal kingdom, genetics and natural selection can produce some truly incredible creatures. But, out of all animals, gynandromorphs are among the most unique. The term gynandromorph is a combination of the Greek words “gyne”, which means “female”, and “andro”, which means “male”. So, as you would guess, gynandromorphs are animals that possess both male and female characteristics.

The butterfly in the photo above is a mosaic gynandromorph, which means both male and female characteristics are present, but neither is clearly defined.

This contrasts with the butterfly in the photo below. This butterfly is a bilateral gynandromorph, which means half of the butterfly is male and half of it is female, and you can clearly see this in the contrasting wing colors.

This curious phenomenon can be seen in other creatures too, including crustaceans and birds.

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This isn’t the only time we’ve seen something like this.

Check out the bilateral gynandromorphic lobster that was discovered earlier this year off the coast of Maine:

Image via Maine Coastal Fisheries

A similar lobster was caught off the coast of Massachusetts back in 2012:

Image via New England Aquarium