Have you ever marveled at the beauty of butterflies flitting and fluttering about flowers? I enjoy watching them feed on the zinnias outside my office window. I’ve also admired them flying through butterfly enclosures at parks and museums. But don’t just marvel at their delightful colors and their enchanting flight. The function of their wings is amazing. Their beauty may inspire artists, but their wings can inspire engineers.
An article in Fascinating Creatures, a booklet published by the Institute for Creation Research, describes a 2021 study of butterflies. Scientists analyzed the wing action and aerodynamics of a silver-washed fritilliary. That’s a species of butterfly. They used high-speed cameras to capture images of the butterflies in a wind tunnel. The images collected were subjected to two types of sophisticated analysis, tomographic particle image velocimetry and kinematics.
What did they discover? They found butterflies have an unexpected wing design, different than other insects. The flexible wings form a pocket on the upstroke and force the air out on the downstroke like a miniature jet engine. The puffs of air propel the butterfly forward. Compared to other insects, butterflies have a 22% increase in forceful impulse and a 28% increase in efficiency.*
The complexity of butterfly wings and flight point us to the wisdom of the Creator. They are reasons to believe in God.
*Frank Sherwin, Brian Thomas, Jeffrey P. Tomkins, James J.S. Johnson, Scott Arledge, Fascinating Creatures: Evidence of Christ’s Handiwork, (Dallas, Texas: Institute for Creation Research, 2022), 21-22.
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