Half-Male, Half-Female Butterfly Debuts at London Museum

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Turns out sexual ambiguity isn’t an issue when you’re an insect.

A half-male, half-female butterfly now flurries about at the Natural History Museum in London. The gynandromorphy butterfly, which has both male and female reproductive organs fused down the middle, hatched last week during the museum’s “Sensational Butterflies” exhibition.

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“It’s an amazing butterfly,” Luke Brown, manager of the exhibit, told the Guardian. “The split is purely bilateral—even the color of one side of its body is slightly different. It has half-male, half-female sexual organs welded together. So they don’t work, it is infertile.”

The male side is a darker shade, while the fairer side is pale and adorned with flecks of blue, red and tortoiseshell. Its dual-sex nature was spotted after a staffer noticed a difference in the wing coloring. The butterfly also has one antenna that is longer than the other.

Blanca Huertas, curator of butterflies at the museum, said: “The gynandromorph butterfly is a fascinating scientific phenomenon, and is the product of complex evolutionary processes. It is fantastic to have discovered one hatching on museum grounds, particularly as they are so rare.”

The butterfly, according to museum staff, is healthy — and probably showing off its colors to the museum’s other insects.

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