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#2382 Morpho Butterfly - Artis Royal Zoo Amsterdam (Holland)

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Morpho Butterfly at the Artis Royal Zoo (also known as Natura Artis Magistra), Amsterdam (Holland)

A Morpho Butterfly may be one of over 29 accepted species and 147 accepted subspecies of butterflies in the genus Morpho. They are Neotropical butterflies found mostly in South America as well as Mexico and Central America. The name Morpho, meaning changed or modified, is also an epithet of Aphrodite and Venus. Many Morpho butterflies are coloured in metallic, shimmering shades of blues and greens. These colours are not a result of pigmentation but are an example of iridescence through structural colouration: the microscopic scales covering the Morpho's wings reflect incident light repeatedly at successive layers, leading to interference effects that depend on both wavelength and angle of incidence/observance. Thus the colours produced vary with viewing angle, however they are actually surprisingly uniform, perhaps due to the tetrahedral (diamond-like) structural arrangement of the scales or diffraction from overlying cell layers. The ventral side is decorated with ocelli or eyespots (as seen above). While not all Morphos have iridescent colouration, they all have ocelli. In most species only the males are colourful, supporting the theory that the colouration is used for intrasexual communication between males.

The Butterfly Pavilion is the largest of its kind in the Netherlands, covering a thousand square meters and housing thousands of butterflies.
Twice a day, butterflies that have just crawled out of their cocoons are released into the pavilion.

Matthijs van Wageningen
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