Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 23, 2021

This Butterfly Was the First in North America That People Made Extinct

The New York Times reports on the first human caused extinction of a North American Butterfly

Scientists could all agree the grim fate of the Xerces blue — the first butterfly known to go extinct in North America because of human activities — was a loss for biodiversity. But they were divided over whether Xerces was its own distinct species, a subspecies of the widespread silvery blue butterfly Glaucopsyche lygdamus, or even just an isolated population of silvery blues.

This may seem a scientific quibble, but if Xerces blue was not in fact a genetically distinct lineage, it would not technically be truly extinct.

Now, researchers have sequenced a near-complete mitochondrial genome of a 93-year-old museum specimen, which suggests the Xerces blue was a distinct species, which they say could be properly named Glaucopsyche xerces, according to a paper published Wednesday in Biology Letters.

Read more at This Butterfly Was the First in North America That People Made Extinct – The New York Times


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