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Muckety mover - Nabokov’s butterflies

By Muckety

January 26, 2011 at 10:39am
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It’s not unheard of for a writer’s influence to increase after death.

But it’s rare that a novelist is celebrated posthumously for his scientific insights.

The late Vladimir Nabokov has managed to be both a renowned author and a newly celebrated lepidopterist.

The New York Times writes that scientists have verified Nabokov’s theory that a species of butterfly called Polyommatus blues migrated to the Americas in a series of waves, over millions of years.

Although the author was a lifelong researcher of butterflies, serving as curator of lepidoptera at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, scientists didn’t seriously consider his work until long after his death in 1977.

Using DNA techniques unavailable during the author’s lifetime, a team of American and European researchers has confirmed that five waves of blues came from Asia to the New World.

“By God, he got every one right,” Harvard professor Naomi Pierce told the Times.

Nabokov, of course said it better. “My pleasures,” he wrote, “are the most intense known to man: writing and butterfly hunting.”

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