A rare half-male, half-female butterfly — and other photos of evolutionary wonders

The genetic mutations leading to gynandromorphy — the possession of male and female sexual characteristics by a single individual — occur throughout nature, appearing in crustaceans, birds and other animals. It is especially noticeable in butterflies (such as this birdwing, Trogonoptera trojana), because many butterfly species already show sexual dimorphism — visible differences between male and female. This birdwing shows one bright “male” wing and one duller “female.” Recently, a gynandromorphic great Mormon butterfly made headlines after emerging from a chrysalis during a 2011 butterfly show at the Natural History Museum in London. (Robert Clark/Courtesy of Phaidon)
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When Charles Darwin examined an orchid from Madagascar with a nearly foot-long nectary, he was certain that a corresponding moth, one with an exceptionally long proboscis must exist. More than two decades after Darwin died, a moth matching this specification was identified. And more than 80 years after that, it was further confirmed: The Xanthopan morganii was documented feeding on this exact flower.

This moth is one of the fascinating examples of the extraordinary ways in which plants and animals have adapted elegant solutions for survival, collected in photographer Robert Clark’s new work, “Evolution” (Phaidon) with text by Joseph Wallace. Clark wholeheartedly embraces the idea that examples of evolution are all around us, if you just know where to look.

See more of Clark’s work, which was previously featured on In Sight: “The hidden language of bird feathers.”

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