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 based 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 and they give it a "frosted" appearance. It is larger and darker than the other species.
 
It also has a unique DNA sequence that is very similar to those 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 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, which 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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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why might the Tanana Arctic have a “frosted” appearance?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (24)
  • michaelg-ver
    3/28/2016 - 10:38 a.m.

    I thinks it has a "frosted" appearance os then it can be disguised in the snowy environment.

  • tiernanj-obr
    3/28/2016 - 02:37 p.m.

    Why might the Tanana Arctic have a frosted appearance? Maybe it has a frosted look because it is a kind of simple camouflage. It could also be because the climate the butterfly lives in has had snowy weather for a very long time. It mus have had frost on its wings over and over and it eventually became a pigment. That is why the Tanana Arctic butterfly might have a "frosted" appearance.

  • mayaw-6-bar
    3/28/2016 - 07:43 p.m.

    The Tanana Arctic might have a “frosted” appearance because it has white specks on it. In paragraph 4, it says,"The Tanana Arctic has white specks on the underside of its penny-colored wings and they give it a "frosted" appearance." Therefore, the Tanana Arctic might have a "frosted" appearance because on the underside of its wings it has white specks. I chose this article because on Tween Tribune I always enjoy reading the animal articles. I enjoyed this article because I learnt something new.

  • ellas-obr
    3/29/2016 - 02:29 p.m.

    The Tanana Artcic Butterfly is a unique butterfly species that was found in northern Alaska. The Tanana Arctic butterfly might have a ''frosted'' appearance because it needs to be camouflaged into its frosty environment. As you may know, northern Alaska is cold and covered in snow. Being frost-colored, the Tanana Butterfly blends in with the frost so it can stay safe from predeators.

  • joey0111-byo
    3/29/2016 - 08:14 p.m.

    Maybe it is because of evolution and adapting, or even camoflauge. Like the polar bear, it was first a normal bear until it went into snow for a while. It evolved to become white.

  • dianner-2-bar
    3/30/2016 - 04:04 p.m.

    The Tanana Arctic might have a "frosted" appearance because as the article mentioned "The Tanana Arctic has white specks on the underside of its penny-colored wings". I enjoyed reading this article because it was facinating to learn how the butterflies made more and different kinds of themselves. My opinion on the article was that it was nice and i loved hoe there are newer butterblies and how they have the white specks.




  • vincents-1-bar
    3/30/2016 - 08:40 p.m.

    The Tanana Arctic might have a “frosted” appearance because it has white specks on it. In paragraph 4, it says,"The Tanana Arctic has white specks on the underside of its penny-colored wings and they give it a "frosted" appearance." Therefore, the Tanana Arctic might have a "frosted" appearance because on the underside of its wings it has white specks. I chose this article because on Tween Tribune I always enjoy reading the animal articles. I enjoyed this article because I learnt something new.

  • tiffanyf-1-bar
    3/30/2016 - 11:03 p.m.

    The Tanana Arctic Butterfly may have a "frosted" appearance because because they live in a an environment in which is often covered in snow. A frosted appearance may help the butterfly blend in with the environment in a process called camouflage. Camouflage helps the butterfly hide from predators that wish to feed on them, better ensuring their safely and survival. The article states,"Arctic butterflies live in environments that are too cold and extreme for most other butterflies." The arctic butterfly has adapted to the cold by learning to produce natural antifreeze. In addition to this, the butterfly has also evolved to blend in with its surroundings to protect the future of this butterfly's populations. This article is interesting because I didn't think butterfly's were able to produce their own natural antifreeze.

  • audreyv-4-bar
    3/30/2016 - 11:57 p.m.

    The Tanana Arctic may have a "frosted" appearance, so that they could blend in with their environment. The Tanana Arctic butterflies live in extremely cold weather where there are snow and ice, so the "frosted" look can act a useful camouflage. I found this article very interesting, because it shows how global warming could affect our world in different ways.

  • caitlynk-2-bar
    3/31/2016 - 01:47 a.m.

    The Tanana Arctic has a frosted appearance because it, "has white specks on the underside of its penny-colored wings". The butterflies frosted appearance was because of the white specks on the the butterflies wings. This article was interesting because it helped me learn, not only more about butterflies, but Alaska too. I learned about the different butterfly species in Alaska and also, I learned about some butterflies the lived before the iceage. This article surprised me because even though they are scientists they use the term frosted, not any scientific term.

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