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Discovery Magazine 8/1/2007

Metamorphosis

Robots that can change into cars, trucks, planes, or motorcycles have entertained children for more than 20 years. Young people have played with Transformers®, read stories about them in magazines, and even watched them come to life on TV and in the movies. Truth be told, even as an adult, I enjoy helping my kids convert their Transformers® from one thing to another.

As exciting as converting toy Transformers® is, a more amazing transformation process can be seen in the animal world. God designed various animals, like certain insects and amphibians, so that throughout their lives they go through major changes. They do not evolve into other kinds of creatures, but undergo a process of major changes that allow them to develop properly. We call this process metamorphosis (me-tuh-MOR-fuh-sis).

The first stage of metamorphosis is the egg stage. Insects (like the housefly) lay eggs, where embryos form. The embryos remain in the eggs for anywhere from one day to one month.

When the creature leaves the egg, it is known as a larva. Caterpillars are the larvae of butterflies and moths. Maggots are the larvae of flies. (“Larvae” is the plural of “larva.”) Although with most insects this stage lasts only a few days or weeks, some cicadas (si-KAY-duhs) remain underground in the larval stage for 17 years.

Next is the pupal stage. Not all creatures that undergo metamorphosis go through this stage (cockroaches, for example, do not). Insects like flies, moths, and butterflies, however, form pupae. (“Pupae” is the plural of “pupa.”) When a moth caterpillar forms a cocoon, it is in the pupal stage. The insect undergoes major changes during this time. For example, this is when caterpillars develop their wings and become moths or butterflies. The pupal stage may last for days, weeks, or months.

When an insect at the end of the pupal stage emerges from its case, it is fully developed. It is now an adult and will remain in this stage until it dies, which for many insects is not very long.

Metamorphosis is an incredible process. Like toy Transformers® that had to have been designed by intelligent toymakers, the much more sophisticated living animals that transform must have been designed by an Intelligent Designer. That Designer is God, “the Maker of all things” (Jeremiah 10:16).



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