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Mouthpart functions change: butterfly


Caterpillars eating leaves / David Edward.. / LicenseCC-by-nc-nd - Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives

The mouthparts of a caterpillar and its butterfly serve drastically different functions with minimal energy loss because they arise from the same basic morphological pattern.

"A caterpillar straddles the rim of a leaf and its jaws, like tiny secateurs, clip away neat semicircular holes and erode the leaf at a prodigious speed. A couple of months later, a butterfly pauses briefly on a flower and uncurls a long 'tongue' or proboscis with which it probes the heart of the bloom to suck up nectar. The butterfly was once the caterpillar, but since its metamorphosis it has adopted a completely different diet, and consequently its mouthparts have had to change shape dramatically. The mouthparts of both butterfly and caterpillar, however, are formed from the same basic pattern, a pattern shared by all insects. Just as birds' beaks are adapted to their eating habits, so too are insect mouthparts." (Foy and Oxford Scientific Films 1982:159)
About the inspiring organism

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Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Buildings, tools, furniture that serve one function but are adaptable to other functions as needs change. Metaphor for planning for future change within a business, with minimal disruption and resource use.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Construction, Manufacturing, Business

Foy S; Oxford Scientific Films. 1982. The Grand Design: Form and Colour in Animals. Lingfield, Surrey, U.K.: BLA Publishing Limited for J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd, Aldine House, London. 238 p.
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