Tucked safely inside its chrysalis, the caterpillar’s body dissolves almost entirely. Only the heart still beats. The rest is a gooey “soup” of organic materials with no form at all. If we were to open the cocoon at that point, the “goo” would never become anything. It would just die. However, if it is not harmed or interrupted, the “goo” forms up into another shape altogether — that of the developing butterfly. Instead of a soft skin, it forms a hard shell. Instead of a mouth that is adapted to chew leaves, it develops a long tube, curled into a tightly wound spiral, designed to reach deep into flowers and suck out their nectar.
The eyes form as part of the head, and are complex. Instead of many segments, there are only three, each with a pair of legs. And instead of being confined to crawling in order to get around, a delicate and intricate system of membranes, framework, and muscles takes shape; it will become the butterfly’s wings. All of this takes place in secret, hidden away from the eyes of potential predators, but it is truly one of the miracles of nature.
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