I went to a talk by Paul Brakefield today. I loved it. It was a summary of decades of work on butterfly eyespots covering just about everything about them. There was development and evolvability, ecology and adaptation, courtship and speciation, really all an evolutionary biologist could wish for. Yay!
Nonetheless, my biggest squee moment in the entire talk was the first slide, which contained a picture of Kjell Sandved’s butterfly alphabet.
Back in the sixties, this guy who had taken like one photo in his entire life realised he could spell things out with patterns on butterflies’ wings. So he went and learned photography and travelled the world to hunt down the entire Latin alphabet plus symbols and Arabic numerals. All on little scaly lepidopteran wings. I have no words for how fucking cool that is. I don’t want to post the alphabet itself since it’s copyrighted, but do a google search or go here and you’ll see. You’ll see.