Alaska has a new butterfly
Alaska has a new butterfly This image provided by lepidopterist Andrew Warren shows the newly discovered Tanana Arctic butterfly. (Andrew Warren/Florida Museum of Natural History via AP)
Alaska has a new butterfly
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A new species of butterfly could provide clues about Alaska's geological history and its changing climate. This is according to a University of Florida researcher.
Research by lepidopterist Andrew Warren suggests that the newly discovered Tanana Arctic butterfly evolved from the offspring of two related butterfly species. They are the Chryxus Arctic and the White-veined Arctic. He thinks all three species lived in the Beringia region before the last ice age. The story was reported in The Daily News-Miner. The newspaper is in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Scientists have been seeing the Tanana Arctic butterfly for more than 60 years. Its similarity to the Chryxus Arctic led them to believe it was the same species. Warren noticed its distinct characteristics. He is senior collections manager at the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity at the Florida Museum of Natural History. It is on the UF campus in Gainesville.
The Tanana Arctic has white specks on the underside of its penny-colored wings. They give it a "frosted" appearance. It is larger and darker than the other species.
It also has a unique DNA sequence. It is very similar to that in nearby populations of White-veined Arctics, said Warren. This has led to the hypothesis that the new species is a hybrid.
More field research is needed. Scientists want to find out whether the Tanana Arctic also exists further east into the Yukon. Arctic butterflies live in environments that are too cold and extreme for most other butterflies. They can survive in part thanks to natural antifreeze their bodies produce.
"Once we sequence the genome, we'll be able to say whether any special traits helped the butterfly survive in harsh environments," said Warren.
He plans to return to Alaska and look for the butterfly next year. Warren wants to collect new specimens in order to fully sequence the genome. It could reveal the species' history and show whether it's truly a hybrid.
The Tanana Arctic lives in spruce and aspen forests in the Tanana-Yukon River Basin. Because butterflies react quickly to climate change, the new species could serve as an early warning indicator for the remote region.
"This butterfly has apparently lived in the Tanana River valley for so long that if it ever moves out, we'll be able to say 'Wow, there are some changes happening,'" Warren said. "This is a region where the permafrost is already melting and the climate is changing."

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Why might the Tanana Arctic have a “frosted” appearance?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • brycep-kut
    3/28/2016 - 01:42 p.m.

    That is really interesting that there has ben a new butter fly .There may be whole areas that thousands of them .There can be other rare events with other animals like cats two types that have never bred with each other or maybe even dogs

  • albrimz-obr
    3/28/2016 - 02:38 p.m.

    I will tell you why might the Tanana Artic have a frosted appearance. Alaska has just discoverd a new butterfly called the Tanana Artic. The Tanana Artic has specks underside of its penny-colored/brown wings. I think that the specks are cold and the wing gets cold and it turns dark like humans to when they are cold That is also why it is darker and bigger than other butterflies. When a pray tries to get it, it would not see it cause it is like camoflauge. This butterfly lives in the cold that why it gets the specks. That is why the Tanana Artic has frosted appearance.

  • alexisa-obr
    3/28/2016 - 02:42 p.m.

    The Tanana Arctic butterfly is a fine creature found in Alaska. The Tanana Arctic butterfly might be a hard animal to find, but It might be easy too. The Tanana Arctic butterfly is brown with speckles and it has a powdery substance on its wings. I hope to find one of these butterfies on the tundra.

  • alexsandriav-obr
    3/28/2016 - 02:43 p.m.

    The Tanana Arctic butterfly is a new species that was discovered in Alaska. The Tanana Artic butterfly was found by Andrew Warren. The question said why does the butterfly was frosted, well it is frosted because of camouflage. The camouflage will help keeping it from getting killed and so that they could find food. Sometimes when they tried to hide from other things that could kill them they hide on a tree or something that is most likely the same color of the wings.

  • catherines-obr
    3/28/2016 - 02:45 p.m.

    A new species of butterfly was recently discovered in Alaska.The Tanana Arctic butterfly has a frosted appearance because the white specks on the underside of the butterflies wings gives it that look. There must be some reason for this coloration. I believe this helps the butterfly hide from predators and gives it a fighting chance to survive. Life is tough enough up here in Alaska. It is good to know that even a Tanana Arctic butterfly has something to help it survive and live to fly another day.

  • francescan-obr
    3/28/2016 - 02:45 p.m.

    The Tanana Arctic butterfly was a new species and was recently discovered in Alaska by Andrew Warren. The Tanana Arctic butterfly has a frosted apperance because of the white specks that is on their wings. The white specks on the Tanana Arctic wings might help them blend in with their habitat and it also might help them get food. The white specks on the Tanana Arctic butterfly as a frosted apperance because the Tanana Arctic butterfly in might live in colder places. If I ever come across a Tanana Arctic

  • romeld-obr
    3/28/2016 - 02:45 p.m.

    The Tanana Arctic is a butterfly that was recently found in Alaska. People thought that the Tanana Arctic was a Chryxus Arctic for 60 years. Then Warren found out that they were different types of butterfly. He found out a slight diffrence with the Tanana Arctic and the Chryxus Arctic the Tanana Arctic has white specks on the underside of its penny colored wings. The Tanana Arctic is darker and larger than the Chryxus Arctic.

  • jacobg-kut
    3/28/2016 - 03:46 p.m.

    it is cool how it said that the butterfly had lived in the tanana river for so long that it would be a wow if they move out

  • samuelr-2-bar
    3/28/2016 - 04:08 p.m.

    The Tanana Artic butterfly may have a frosted appearance because of the natural antifreeze their body produces to be sure they do not freeze. The article states that "They can survive in part thanks to natural antifreeze their bodies produce." This means that this natural chemical produces can make sure they do not freeze over and die. This antifreeze can also give the butterflies body a "frosted appearance" The chemicals properties have a dusty cold look just like something that has been frozen or that has snow or ice on it. In conclusion the Tanana Artic butterfly has a frosted appearance because of the antifreeze it uses to stay alive not freeze.

  • connerw-kut
    3/28/2016 - 04:51 p.m.

    I never thought that a butterfly could live in the harsh artic but it is cool to know that they produce there own antifreeze that helps them to stay alive. The butterfly sorta looks like a giant moth. I would love to see this new butterfly.

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