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Wing Morph

More About Wing Morph

This "morph" animation demonstrates how the expression of a particular toolkit gene in a butterfly larva corresponds to the location of the wing eyespots in an adult butterfly.

Wing Morph Background

This computer "morph" animation was created from two images. The initial image is a developing wing from a Bicyclus anynana butterfly larva. A fluorescent stain shows the expression of a toolkit gene called Distal-less . This gene is expressed in the seven spots on the developing wing. The final image is the adult Bicyclus anynana wing. The morph demonstrates that the expression of the toolkit gene in the larva directly corresponds with the location of the eyespots on the adult wing. Interestingly, the Distal-less gene was originally identified as being involved in limb formation. In the butterfly, the same gene has been co-opted to control the development of wing color patterns. The variable expression of a few toolkit genes can produce a wide range of color patterns found in butterfly wings. More broadly, the variable expression of toolkit genes can lead to countless dramatic changes in color and form. This genetic mechanism is key to understanding how natural selection has resulted in such a wide variety of organisms.

From Lecture Four of the 2005 Holiday Lectures Series "Evolution: Constant Change and Common Threads"

Wing Morph Teaching Tips

The animations in this section have a wide variety of classroom applications. Use the tips below to get started but look for more specific teaching tips in the near future. Please tell us how you are using the animations in your classroom by sending e-mail to biointeractive@hhmi.org.

  1. Use the animations to make abstract scientific ideas visible and concrete.
  2. Explain important scientific principles through the animations. For example, the biological clocks animations can be used to demonstrate the fundamentals of transcription and translation.
  3. Make sure that students learn the material by repeating sections of the animations as often as you think necessary to reinforce underlying scientific principles. You can start, restart, and play back sections of the animations.
  4. Urge students to use the animations in accordance with their own learning styles. Students who are more visually oriented can watch the animations first and read the text later, while others might prefer to read the explanations first and then view the graphics.
  5. Incorporate the animations into Web-based learning modules that you create to supplement your classroom curricula.
  6. Encourage students to incorporate the animations into their own Web-based projects.


The 2005 Holiday Lectures Series "Evolution: Constant Change and Common Threads"

Wing Morph Credits

Director: Dennis Liu, Ph.D.

Scientific Direction: Sean B. Carroll, Ph. D. and Steve Paddock, Ph. D.

Scientific Content: Satoshi Amagai, Ph.D.

Animator: Blake Porch

Curriculum Connections:

AP Biology (2015)
3.A.1.e; 3.B.1.a,b,c,d; 3.B.2.a,b; 3.C.1.d

IB Biology (2016)
1.5, 2.7, 3.5, 5.2, 7.2, 7.3, B.4

NGSS (April 2013)
HS-LS1-1 (LS1.A), HS-LS1-4 (LS1.B), HS-LS4-2 (LS4.B,LS4.C)

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