Monday, January 31, 2011

Nabakov and Butterflies

Amateur lepidopterists, take heart. Turns out that Vladimir Nabokov, best known as author of Lolita, "had a parallel existence as a self-taught expert on butterflies", as described recently in the NY Times. The article describes a controversial hypothesis he proposed back in 1945 about how a kind of butterfly known as the Polyommatus blues came to the American continent in five successive waves from Asia, over a period of millions of years. Though Nabokov's hypothesis was given little credence during his lifetime, tests using modern gene-sequencing techniques have proven him correct.

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