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Papilio polytes, an Asian swallowtail butterfly species also known as the Common Mormon, possesses distinctive mimicry patterns (left). The same species also has non-mimetic forms (right).
A single gene regulates the complex wing patterns, colors and structures required for mimicry in swallowtail butterflies, report scientists from the University of Chicago, March 5 in Nature. Surprisingly, the gene described, doublesex, is already well-known for its critical role in sexual differentiation in insects.