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Common Mormons Outsmart Enemies


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I was curious as to how this butterfly got its name, thinking it was some kind of Hindi word that was similar in sound to Mormon, but this turns out not to be the case.  This particular butterfly's males and females have different appearances, and even more noteworthy, it isn't mere sexual dimorphism, it is sexual multimorphism!  Species of animals in which the male and the female are easily distinguished because of the differences in their appearances are said to exhibit dimorphism, but while the Common Mormon male has only one "morph" or style of appearance, the female has three!  It is this trimorphism of the female is what earned the butterfly its common epithet. 


This butterfly is very interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papilio_polytes


The common name is an allusion to the polygamy formerly practiced by members of the Mormon sect according to Harish Gaonkar, of the Natural History Museum in London:

... the origins of giving common English names to organisms, particularly butterflies for tropical species started in India around the mid 19th century ... The naming of Mormons evolved slowly. I think the first to get such a name was the Common Mormon (Papilio polytes), because it had three different females, a fact that could only have been observed in the field, and this they did in India. The name obviously reflected the ... Mormon sect in America, which as we know, practiced polygamy.

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