Coiling action of the butterfly proboscis resembled spiral similar to Golden Ratio
Alongside Leonardo Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, disc-shaped galaxies, or the cochlea of the human ear, scientists can now count sap-feeding butterfly proboscises as aligned with the Golden Ratio.
The mysterious Golden Ratio (also known as Phi (φ), the Golden Mean, or the Divine Number) is an incommensurable number - a relationship between two irrational numbers - which occurs organically throughout the universe. Beginning as 1.61803, the Golden Ratio continues forever without repeating, similar to Pi (π). Artists and architects have employed the number to guide design. In the natural world, the Golden Ratio often appears in the shape of a spiral.
Researchers at Kent State University observed that the coiling action of the butterfly proboscis, a tube-like "mouth" that many butterflies and moths use to feed on fluids, resembled a spiral similar to that of the Golden Ratio, and decided to investigate. Their study, "The Golden Ratio reveals geometric differences in proboscis coiling among butterflies of different feeding habits", was released by American Entomologist, a publication of the Entomological Society of America.
The experiment consisted of collecting six butterfly species with different feeding habits (nectar feeders, sap feeders, and puddle feeders, i.e., species where males puddle to acquire sodium) over a 3-month period near Alliance, OH. A high-speed camera was used to record proboscis-coiling configurations and the videos were then analyzed to isolate the frame that showed closeness to the Golden Ratio spiral.
Though proboscis geometry did not show a trend that matched the evolutionary relationships among the studied species, it was discovered that the Golden Ratio did relate to butterfly feeding habits, and sap-feeding butterflies have proboscis conformations that closely resemble the Golden Ratio. The researchers suggest that the differences in proboscis coiling conformations might relate to the substrates from which butterflies feed. "This trend fits a pattern where nectar feeders primarily feed on fluids confined in floral tubes, sap feeders feed on exposed fluids of porous surfaces, and puddle feeders feed from both."
The researchers suggest that these findings can be used to predict the feeding habits of unstudied lepidopteran species, as well as provide the basis for further research on the connection between the structural configuration of proboscis coiling patterns and butterfly feeding habits. "Although coincidental, it is fascinating that a mathematical occurrence can be used to reveal a widespread pattern at radically different scales, from galaxies to butterfly proboscises," concludes lead author Matthew S. Lehnert.
Matthew S. Lehnert is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Kent State University at Stark where he teaches Entomology, Genetics, and Evolution courses. He studies the evolutionary ecology and fluid uptake mechanisms of Lepidoptera.
Eric Brown was an undergraduate student at Kent State University at Stark where he recently graduated with a B.A. in Biology.
Margie P. Lehnert is a Lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences at Kent State University at Stark where she teaches numerous biology courses for majors and non-majors.
Patrick D. Gerard is Professor of Applied Statistics in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Clemson University.
Huan Yan is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University.
Chanjoong Kim is an Assistant Professor at the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University.
About American Entomologist
American Entomologist is a quarterly magazine that publishes articles and information of general entomological interest. The magazine publishes columns, features, research, book reviews, letters to the editor, and obituaries.
**Link will be live upon embargo date. A full PDF of the article is available upon request.**
Estelle Hallick | EurekAlert!
Plant mothers talk to their embryos via the hormone auxin
17.07.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria
Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides
16.07.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.07.2018 | Life Sciences
16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences