Heliconius heurippa

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Heliconius heurippa
2013-03 Naturkundemuseum Berlin Heliconicus heurippa anagoria.JPG
From Museum für Naturkunde
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Genus: Heliconius
Species: H. heurippa
Binomial name
Heliconius heurippa
(Hewitson, 1854[1])

Heliconius heurippa is a butterfly of the genus Heliconius that is believed by some scientists to be a separate species from—but a hybrid of—the species Heliconius cydno and Heliconius melpomene, making H. heurippa an example of hybrid speciation.[2][3]


H. heurippa is found on the eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in Colombia.[1]


The color pattern of H. heurippa appears to be a combination of the patterns found on H. cydno and H. melpomene. Natural hybrids from San Cristóbal, Táchira, Venezuela, display wing patterns very similar to H. heurippa, supporting the hypothesis of a hybrid origin for the species.[4]

A team from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama attempted to recreate H. heurippa by breeding H. cydno with H. melpomene.[5] In only three generations of hybridization, the investigators developed butterflies with wing patterns almost identical to those of H. heurippa[6][7] that may be very similar to the first H. heurippa individuals.[7]

Butterflies within Heliconius are "extremely choosey" about finding mates with wing patterns that match their own,[8] and H. heurippa males given a choice between mating with females of H. heurippa, H. cydno, or H. melpomene species were 75 to 90 percent more likely to choose their own kind.[5] They were similarly discriminating when presented with photographs of wing patterns instead of actual mates.[7] The wing patterns of H. heurippa individuals also make them undesirable as mates for members of their parents' species as well,[8] showing evidence for reproductive isolation between H. heurippa and its putative parental species.[7]

Skeptics wish to see further genetic sequencing demonstrating that wild H. heurippa is a hybrid similar to the laboratory-developed animals,[5] and the H. heurippa hybrid speciation hypothesis has been the subject of a recent (2011) critical review.[9] There is evidence to suggest that the genome of H. heurippa may be a mosaic.[10]

The species H. timareta and H. pachinus[10] are also proposed to result from the hybridization of H. cydno and H. melpomene.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Tree of Life Project: Heliconius heurippa". Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  2. ^ Salazar CA, Jiggins CD, Arias CF, Tobler A, Bermingham E, Linares M (2005). "Hybrid incompatibility is consistent with a hybrid origin of Heliconius heurippa Hewitson from its close relatives, Heliconius cydno Doubleday and Heliconius melpomene Linnaeus". J. Evol. Biol. 18 (2): 247–56. doi:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2004.00839.x. PMID 15715831. 
  3. ^ Mallet J, Beltrán M, Neukirchen W, Linares M (2007). "Natural hybridization in heliconiine butterflies: the species boundary as a continuum". BMC Evol. Biol. 7: 28. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-28. PMC 1821009Freely accessible. PMID 17319954. 
  4. ^ "Two species become one in the lab | Two species become one in the lab". BBC News. 2006-06-14. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  5. ^ a b c "Putting One and One Together". Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  6. ^ Mavárez J, Salazar CA, Bermingham E, Salcedo C, Jiggins CD, Linares M (2006). "Speciation by hybridization in Heliconius butterflies". Nature. 441 (7095): 868–71. doi:10.1038/nature04738. PMID 16778888. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Hybrids: When two species become three - life - 15 June 2006 - New Scientist". Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  8. ^ a b c "Butterfly Speciation Event Recreated". Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  9. ^ Brower AVZ (2011). "Hybrid speciation in Heliconius butterflies? A review and critique of the evidence". Genetica. 139 (2): 589–609. doi:10.1007/s10709-010-9530-4. 
  10. ^ a b Kronforst MR, Salazar C, Linares M, Gilbert LE (2007). "No genomic mosaicism in a putative hybrid butterfly species". Proc. Biol. Sci. 274 (1615): 1255–64. doi:10.1098/rspb.2006.0207. PMC 2176181Freely accessible. PMID 17374598.