19 December 2006

Nabokov's blues

A neat article in the New York Times:
In the 1940s, a decade before achieving international renown with “Lolita,” Vladimir Nabokov solidified his reputation as a lepidopterist by reclassifying the wide-ranging North American butterfly genus Lycaeides, the “blues.”

Nabokov divided the blues into two large species — Lycaeides melissa, the Melissa blue, and Lycaeides idas, the northern blue, with overlapping ranges in the mountains of the West. He also theorized that the blues he found high in the Tetons and Colorado Rockies were hybrids, but he lacked the tools to prove it.
Molecular biologists have proved him right, finding that a population of hybrid L. melissa x L. idas, high in the Sierra Nevada above the habitats of both parent species. Read more here.