Glued moths! So what!
- I noticed there has been some renewed discussion here about certain
moths being photographed on different backgrounds.
In my younger days I happened to have gotten caught up in a bit of that
little controversy. The archives here might be searched for details.
In any case, this morning on Todd's "Creationism" list Ed made the
following comment relative to that issue:
> Glueing moths to trees? Now that isIn those earlier days I happened to bring that subject up with Kenneth
> just slightly cheating.
Miller, a fellow on the receiving end of some of that criticism.
Following my name below is a response I got from him regarding the
It might be relevant to the renewed interest in such things. I figure
the flap is not what some (i.e. Ed) would like to make of it.
From: Kenneth_Miller@... (Kenneth Miller)
Date: Mon, Jul 8, 2002, 9:39am
To: rlbaty@... (Robert Baty)
Subject: Re: Peppered Moths
Dear Mr. Baty,
Thanks for your note:
> I recently ran into a fellow on theWhich one? From the recent "Evolution" series? or another one?
> Internet that complained about certain
> questionable photographs of the moths
> that were prepared for a NOVA
> I have read a rebuttal explaining thatDo you mean the photos on this web page?
> such "staged" photographs are nothing
> unusual when it comes to insect
> photography and the fuss about them
> is quite unwarranted.
> I am wondering about the photos in the
> article you have up (circa 1999) on the
> Are those pictures "staged", or are they
> real-life, as they found them in the wild
> type pictures?
These are simply pictures that I found on the internet. I assume that
they are staged, meaning that the photographer took light and dark
colored moths and placed them on light and dark backgrounds, then
> Are you aware of this little controversy?
> Got opinion.
Well, I am certainly aware of the charges that the photos are "faked."
And they are not faked.
They are real moths on real backgrounds that exist in nature.
The important point here is to appreciate what the photos are intended
to show. They illustrate crypsis (camouflage). What these photos and
those in many textbooks illustrate, quite correctly, is the fact that a
moth's visibility on a background is much greater if it contrasts with
Any other questions?
Kenneth R. Miller
Professor of Biology
Providence, RI 02912