Happy Darwin Day!

Happy Darwin Day! Charles Darwin was born this day in 1809. Today many institutions and people across the globe celebrate his many important contributions to science and natural history.

One of Darwin’s many predictions of natural selection was the existence of a pollinator (a moth, specifically) to fertilize the orchid Angraecum sesquipedale, published in 1862. This species is unique in that the nectar lies at the bottom of a flower over a foot deep. Dismissed at first by scientific contemporaries, this moth was later discovered in 1903. Xanthopan morgani has a proboscis measuring almost 35 cm (over 13 inches)! This is a classic example of coevolution, where the fitness of both plant and pollinator is on the success of the interaction that is plant pollination.

Go Darwin!

Angraecum sesquipedale

Angraecum sesquipedale

440px-NHM_Xanthopan_morgani

Xanthopan morgani

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