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Creation 30(4):56, September 2008

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Watch a glasswing passing (without flying colours)


Rich Young flickr.com/young-in-panama (CC BY 2.0)Glasswing butterfly

Glasswing butterflies1 (e.g. certain Pteronymia spp.) have large clear patches on their wings.

Many would claim they ‘evolved’ transparent wings (to minimize their visibility to predators). Christians might retort that only a Creator could have made these beautiful see-through wings. Who’s right?

Actually the ‘glass’ wing areas are missing a feature of coloured butterfly wings—scales. Both glasswings and colourful butterflies have transparent wing membranes, but colourful butterflies have pigmented or translucent scales covering them. In iridescent butterflies, by diffracting the light rays in a complex manner, the translucent scales (not pigments) produce the vivid colours, more vibrant than any painting.2 The electron microscope reveals ‘how complex the structures are and difficult to fabricate’.3

Such complexity, which man with all his technology struggles to copy, was surely constructed by Someone even more intelligent (Romans 1:20).

So, colourful (and especially iridescent) butterflies reflect more strongly the Creator’s handiwork than do glasswings. In this post-Fall ‘bondage to decay’ (Romans 8:19–22), glasswings have evidently lost genetic information (for scales)—in common with other observed mutations.

Such mutations demonstrate ‘devolution’, not evolution.4 Natural selection sometimes favours defects—e.g. the glasswing is likely less visible to predators than are colourful butterflies. But this is not evolution—no new information has been produced, notwithstanding that Pteronymia has been given its own genus name, separate from other (coloured) types of Nymphalid butterflies.5

And the fact that the glasswing can fly, just like butterflies with scales,6 confounds evolutionists on two counts. First, the aerodynamic intricacies of butterfly flight defy evolutionary explanation, pointing instead to a Creator.6 Second, the glasswing ‘proves scales are not needed for flight’,7 indicating that the original colourful butterflies were ‘over-engineered’ for flight.8

So why did the Creator bother to make colourful butterflies?

Maybe it’s because God appreciates beauty, and, given that we’re made in His image, He knew that we would, too.

First posted on homepage: 25 January 2010
Re-posted on homepage: 7 April 2021

References and notes

  1. Also known as clearwing butterflies. Return to text.
  2. Sarfati, J., Beautiful black and blue butterflies, Journal of Creation 19(1):9–10, 2005. Return to text.
  3. Graydon, O., Blue microstructures mimic nature, Optics.org, optics.org/cws/article/research/18712, 8 December 2003. Return to text.
  4. I.e., the changes are downhill, not the ‘uphill’ ones evolutionary theory requires. See: Wieland, C., The evolution train’s a-comin (Sorry, a-goin’—in the wrong direction), Creation 24(2):16–19, 2002. Return to text.
  5. Speciation is not evolution. See: The Heliconius hybrid butterfly: speciation yes, evolution no, 23 June 2006. Return to text.
  6. Why a butterfly flutters by, Creation 26(2):56, 2004. Return to text.
  7. Brockman, N., The delicate wings of a butterfly, Iowa State University Extension News, www.extension.iastate.edu/newsrel/2004/dec04/dec0431.html, 20 December 2004. Return to text.
  8. Examples of ‘over-engineering’ abound in nature, presenting a major difficulty for evolutionary theory. Return to text.