SCIENTISTS in Edinburgh have shown how a case of rare breeding between different species of butterfly has helped some acquire the protective wing patterns of others.
Studies of the DNA of butterflies in the Amazon have shown that unrelated species with similar wing patterns share the DNA that controls their striking colouring.
The species share bright wing patterns which act as a warning to predators that the butterflies are bad to eat – protecting them from attack. Scientists say this is the result of very rare interbreeding between pairs of species, which has enabled them to exchange genes and acquire each other’s wing patterns.
Although many species can interbreed in the wild, the resulting hybrids are often infertile.