La mariposa monarca recuerda una montaña de hace milenios

La geología es aquello a lo que recurrimos cuando queremos perpetuar monumentos a lo largo del tiempo. La roca y el metal perduran más que algo realizado de tejido vivo, ¿o quizás no sea así?. Un ejemplo poético de la ciencia, – tan efímero como una mariposa – proporciona pruebas de una gran montaña convertida en polvo.


Las mariposas monarca son uno de los insectos más difíciles del mundo. Su migración los lleva desde el sur de Canadá hasta el centro de México. El viaje es tan largo y difícil que dura más tiempo que la vida de la mariposa. Las monarcas ponen huevos en diferentes etapas del viaje, no hay una sola generación que haga todo el viaje completo.

Desde finales de agosto, millones de mariposas monarca adultas, de la población de América del Norte se vuelven muy sociables y comienzan su migración hacia el sur. A mediados de octubre, migran  desde el centro de Texas a México, donde siguen la Sierra Madre Oriental en el Trópico de Cáncer. A continuación, se desplazan hacia el oeste dirección hacia el Eje Neovolcánico Transversal de las montañas donde pasan el invierno sin reproducirse. El rápido éxodo hacia el norte se produce en el equinoccio de primavera y principios de abril, ambos sexos alcanzan la costa de los estados del Golfo, donde las hembras ponen los huevos durante la esplendorosa primavera en algodoncillos (Asclepias) y mueren.

A lo largo de este camino hay varios lugares que se han convertido en tesoros locales y de atracción turística. Las monarca, que vuelan en enjambres, se agrupan a descansar en áreas pequeñas cubriendo los árboles, dando a sus hojas un aspecto naranja brillante. Pero a pesar de que estas zonas son las partes más llamativas del trayecto, no son las más sorprendentes.

Lo asombroso del viaje es el repentino giro que toman las monarca sobre el Lago Superior, éstas podrían sobrevolar directamente el lago, si ya esto parece un vuelo complicado,  las monarca lo convierten en algo aún más difícil. Una vez en el lago giran al este rodeándolo y luego vuelven en dirección sur. ¿Por qué entonces bordean el lago?

Algunos biólogos y geólogos, creen que algo bloqueó en algún momento el trayecto sobre el lago, suponen que la parte superior del lago podría haber sido alguna vez una de las montañas más altas que se cernieron sobre América del Norte. Habría sido inútil para las monarcas sobrevolar dicha montaña, por lo que todas las que migraron con éxito viraron hacia el este bordeando el lago y dirigiendose hacia el sur posteriormente.  Después de que la montaña quedara en el pasado, continúan realizando dicho desvío.

Esto da un nuevo giro a la forma en que observamos la geología y la geografía. Pensamos en las montañas como unas estructuras prácticamente sin edad. Mientras que las generaciones de animales cambian y evolucionan a su alrededor. Esta vez las mariposas han mantenido su patrón ancestral, mientras el mundo cambia bajo ellas, la montaña se erosiona, o llega a destruirse, como en nuestro caso. Esta vez, la vida supera a la piedra.

Fuente: io9.com, jeb.biologists.org y Ardea Iniciativas y Estudios Ambientales
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