As children we’re taught the process of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, and the story normally goes along the lines of a hungry caterpillar eats and eats until it can eat no longer, then it hangs upside down and forms a chrysalis, from which a beautiful butterfly emerges.
But what actually happens inside the cocoon?
It’s actually quite surprising, the caterpillar does not merely change its body a bit and grow wings, no… It dissolves. Almost entirely. The caterpillar excretes an enzyme which decomposes all the tissues and fibres into basic organic material, leaving only a few ‘cell disks.’
These cell disks comprise all the different types of cells in an adult butterfly - its eyes, legs, wings, etc. The caterpillar is actually born with them but they just remain dormant until metamorphosis. 
Once all the caterpillars cells have been decomposed the adult cell disks then start to grow, using the organic materials left over, eventually forming the butterfly that emerges a few days later.

As children we’re taught the process of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, and the story normally goes along the lines of a hungry caterpillar eats and eats until it can eat no longer, then it hangs upside down and forms a chrysalis, from which a beautiful butterfly emerges.

But what actually happens inside the cocoon?

It’s actually quite surprising, the caterpillar does not merely change its body a bit and grow wings, no… It dissolves. Almost entirely. The caterpillar excretes an enzyme which decomposes all the tissues and fibres into basic organic material, leaving only a few ‘cell disks.’

These cell disks comprise all the different types of cells in an adult butterfly - its eyes, legs, wings, etc. The caterpillar is actually born with them but they just remain dormant until metamorphosis. 

Once all the caterpillars cells have been decomposed the adult cell disks then start to grow, using the organic materials left over, eventually forming the butterfly that emerges a few days later.

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