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A study shows that cabbage white butterflies with their hindwings removed could fly as far and as high as before. (JoeLena / iStockPhoto)

Wild Things: Life as We Know It

Butterflies, clicking antelopes, creatures of the deep and more

wildthings-White-Butterfly-main

White Butterfly
(Cheryl Carlin)
Why do butterflies have two sets of wings? Not to stay aloft, it turns out. Scientists from Carnegie Mellon and Cornell found that cabbage white butterflies with their hindwings removed could fly as far and as high as before. But they were slower to turn. This suggests hindwings are the key to aerial agility, a trait that helps butterflies evade hungry birds.

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