Caterpillar`s dreams … * Goseničine sanje …

Do you still remember the story of the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into a butterfly from school? It goes like this: a caterpillar overeats insatiably, making lots of damage by doing so, until it`s finally all stuffed and fat; then it calms down, hangs itself from a twig and forms a chrysalis. Several weeks or months later the chrysalis finally cracks and a butterfly appears from within – a beautiful creature, totally different from the glutenous, fat and ugly caterpillar. The process is called metamorphosis (Greek μεταμόρφωσις, “transformation, transforming”,[1] from μετα- (meta-), “change” + μορφή (morphe), “form”). There is something going on within the chrysalis during those still weeks and months, but not what we were taught at school. We were told that within this time, the caterpillar is slowly and gradually changing into a butterfly. Nope, that is not the case, the real truth is much more fantastic and rather hard to believe. And not even known for long, the newest data were published only in 2002.

The first part of the story, about the caterpillar who calms down and forms a chrysalis, is accurate … but after that … strange things start to occur in a sleeping caterpillar. New, never seen before cells start to appear in the caterpillar. Scientists named them „imaginal cells“. There are only a few of them at first and the caterpillar`s immune system recognises them as intruders, so it attacks and destroys them. But there are more and more of them and the caterpilllar`s immune system is finally beaten – the imaginal cells win. They start to unite into clusters, forming new tissues, organs … Caterpillar`s cells eventually dissolve into an unrecognizable mass, which the new, imaginal cells, feed on. Finally, a totally new creature is created – a butterfly. Transformation is completed, chrysalis cracks and a butterfly disentangles out of it. Scientists found out that butterfly`s genome is completely different from catterpillar`s, these two are two completely different creatures. Butterfly’s genome sleeps deep down in caterpillar, until the right moment emerges, so he can wake up. It has been so since archaic evolutionary times.

The new butterfly still has some of caterpillars memories – but only of times shortly before the metamorphosis. More distant memories are lost forever.

A butterfly was a symbol of rebirth and resurrection to ancient Greeks; they named butterfly and soul with the same word: psyche. Butterfly presented soul for Aztecs as well, and Irishmen think that white butterflies are souls of dead children.

Perhaps the story of metamorphosis and imaginal cells could apply to people as well. The story of developing through metamorphosis from pest to soul. The story of cells, emerging from nowhere, with unstoppable will to develop into a new creature.

That`s it about caterpillars and butterflies. I will remember this story next time I`ll be chasing away the Large White from my cabbage :).

Se še spomnite iz šole zgodbe o preobrazbi gosenice v metulja? Takole gre: gosenica se nenasitno nažira in pri tem dela škodo, dokler se končno vsa nažrta in debela ne umiri, obvisi z vejice in zabubi. Ko po nekaj tednih ali mesecih kokon končno poči, se iz njega izvije metulj – bitje tako drugačno od požrešne, debele in grde gosenice, da je to težko dojemljivo. Procesu se reče popolna preobrazba ali metamorfoza (grško μεταμόρφωσις: μετα- (meta-) – sprememba + μορφή (morfe) – oblika ). Kaj se v resnici dogaja v zapredku v tednih ali mesecih, ko v kokonu poteka metamorfoza? Sklepali bi, da se gosenica v tem času postopoma spreminja v metulja. Nak, ne drži, resnica je veliko bolj fantastična, na meji še predstavljivega. In niti ne dolgo znana, dognanja so objavili šele leta 2002.

Prvi del zgodbe o goseničini preobrazbi drži: gosenica se umiri in zabubi. A potem je vse drugače … v speči gosenici se začnejo dogajati čudne stvari. V njej se iz nič začnejo pojavljati čudne celice, znanstveniki so jih poimenovali „imaginal cells“ (namišljene celice). Sprva jih je le nekaj, goseničin imunski sistem prepozna vsiljivce in jih uniči. Potem jih nastaja čedalje več, čedalje hitreje, goseničin imunski sistem jih še vedno napada in uničuje, a se celice ne dajo. Končno jih je toliko, da se začnejo združevati v skupke, tvoriti nova tkiva, organe … Celice, iz katerih je nekoč bila sestavljena gosenica, se razpustijo v neprepoznavno gmoto, s katero se hranijo celice, iz katerih nastaja novo bitje – metulj. Končno je preobrazba dokončana, buba poči in iz nje se izvije metulj. Znanstveniki so ugotovili, da je metuljev genom povsem različen od goseničinega, torej gre za dve popolnoma različni bitji. Metuljev genom spi v gosenici, dokler ne napoči trenutek, ko se lahko in mora zbuditi. Tako je že od pradavnih evolucijskih časov. V bubo gre eno, iz njega povsem drugo bitje … fantastična zgodba.

Del goseničinega spomina se ohrani v metulju – a le na čase ne dolgo pred začetkom metamorfoze. Bolj oddaljeni spomini so izgubljeni za vedno.

Antičnim Grkom je metulj predstavljal simbol ponovnega rojstva in vstajenja; za metulja in dušo so imeli isto besedo: psiha. Za Azteke je bil metulj simbol duše, ki se je osvobodila telesa, Irci v belih metuljih vidijo duše umrlih otrok.

Morda bi lahko zgodba o metamorfozi in imaginalnih celicah veljala tudi za ljudi. O preobrazbi iz škodljivca v dušo. O celicah, ki se pojavijo od nikoder, z neustavljivo voljo, da se razvijejo v novo bitje.

Toliko o gosenicah in metuljih. Na to zgodbo se bom spomnila, ko bom naslednjič preganjala kapusovega belina z zelja :).

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6 thoughts on “Caterpillar`s dreams … * Goseničine sanje …

    • ojo, koliko časa je minilo od tvojega sporočila, Tina … žal mi je, upam, da ni prepozno za odgovor. Na to temo sem naletela slučajno, skozi brskanje po temi o razvoju človeka, o njegovi psihi – našla lepo prispodobo, potem pa odkrila, da so za njo tudi znanstvena dejstva, ki pa še niso dolgo znana. In od tu naprej … ;)

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