160 years later, a study shows that Charles Darwin was right about insects losing their ability to fly.

Many insects can fly.

However, many species have lost this extraordinary ability, especially in the islands.

In the small islands between the “continents” of Antarctica, like Australia, almost all insects have done so.

The moths walk, the moths crawl.

“Of course, Charles Darwin knew about this habit of losing island insects,” said Rachel Leihy, a candidate for the University of Monash University School of Biology.

The famous botanist Joseph oze Hooker had a great deal of controversy as to why this was happening. Darwin’s position was deceptively clear. If you fly, you go out to sea. Those who are left on land to produce the next generation are the ones who want to fly the most, and in the end, evolution does the rest. Voilà »:

But as Hooker expressed his skepticism, so do many other scientists.

In short, they simply said that Darwin had misunderstood.

Flight moth

A flying moth associated with a clothing moth from the South Antarctic island of Marion. Sub-Antarctic islands are unusually high in non-flying insects. Loan Leihy & Chown:

However, almost all of these discussions have ignored the place that embodies the loss of flight – these “sub-Antarctic” islands. Lying in the “roaring forties” և “furious fifties”, these are the windiest places on Earth.

“If Darwin had really misunderstood, the wind would not have explained why so many insects have lost the ability to fly to these islands,” said Rachel.

Using a large, new database of insects in the Antarctic Arctic Islands, researchers at the University of Monash studied each of the proposed ideas for calculating the flight loss of insects, including Darwin’s idea of ​​wind.

It is reported that in 2020 On December 9, c Scientific Bulletin of the Royal Society B., they show that Darwin was right about these “windier places”. None of the usual ideas (such as the one proposed by Hooker) explain the extent of sub-Antarctic insect flight loss, but Darwin’s idea does. Although in a slightly different form, but in line with modern ideas of how flight loss actually develops.

Windy conditions make insect flight more difficult and energy-intensive. Thus, the insects stop investing in the flight, the expensive machines that underlie it (the muscles, the muscles), directing the resources to reproduction.

“It is remarkable that 160 years later, Darwin’s ideas continue to permeate the environment,” said Rachel, the paper’s lead author.

Professor Stephen Chaun of the School of Biological Sciences added that the Antarctic region is an extraordinary laboratory where the world’s oldest mysteries can be solved and some of its most powerful ideas tested.

Reference. “The wind plays a big but not unique role in the prevalence of insect flight losses in remote islands.” Leihy և Steven L. Chaun, 2020 December 9, Scientific Bulletin of the Royal Society B.,
DOI: 10.1098 / rspb.2020.2121:

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