The Predicted Moth and Orchid animation
The hawk moth Xanthopan morganii is usually referred to as Charles Darwin's predicted moth. It was upon studying a Madagascar species of orchid, Angraecum sesquipedale, whose flowers display one foot long nectary spurs, that the naturalist surmised that there needed to be a pollinator moth with a proboscis long enough to reach the nectar at the end of the spur. Such insect had never been described but in fact its existence was confirmed around 40 years later. Its biology continues to be poorly known given its nocturnal living and exclusive presence in Madagascar; but its story became a classic example of coevolution between animals and plants.
This animation – created in collaboration with Redmon Group Inc. – portrays the feeding habit of the moth and was commissioned to feature on the homepage of the Butterflies and Plants: partners in evolution exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. An illustration of this same subject was commissioned to be at the Darwin's Evolution exhibition at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon and it was on display at the member exhibition of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators at the Acadian Archives, Fort Kent, ME.
Client: Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History