An addendum to Brian Boyd's comment [which was "I would reply to the Discovery Institute were it really interested in open debate and facts rather than a priori convictions that (as I have pointed out elsewhere) Nabokov's assumption that mimicry exceeds predators' powers of deception has been falsified."]:
This spring in his Developmental Mechanisms of Evolutionary Change course at Harvard, Jim Hanken, the Director of Nabokov's beloved Museum of Comparative Zoology, led an afternoon seminar on eyespots on butterfly wings. (The class' other instructor, Arkhat Abzhanov, is well known for his work on butterflies.) Apparently they are one of most studied subjects in evolutionary biology, and now boast some of the best understood evolutionary mechanisms. Small genetic variations drive a wide variety of expressions, with some involving very detailed mimicry.
Asked about Nabokov's seeming "intelligent design"-type statements and any collision with his scientific butterfly expertise, Hanken answered that it was not uncommon for naturalists of Nabokov's era to feel that the subtlety and variety of features could not be accounted for by natural selection. It's worth remembering that Nabokov left the Museum of Comparative Zoology three years before Watson and Crick began working together on the structure of DNA, and that much less was understood about genes and their expression at the time.
Andrea Pitzer
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All private editorial communications, without exception, are read by both co-editors.