These Large Blue Butterflies Returned to UK After 50-year Extinction

After a 150-year absence, 750 of the aptly-named large blue butterflies have successfully emerged from their cocoons to repopulate parts of their historic habitat in South West England.

Most conservation dollars don’t reach beyond elephants, pandas, and tigers, but English biologists notoriously proud and connected to the natural life on their island needed only five years to begin repopulating part of the country with the largest of England’s nine blue butterfly species: an unmistakable creature thanks to the row of black spots on its upper forewings.

chris.n.cooper CC BY-NC 2.0

Phengaris arion, which is called the ‘large blue’, was officially declared extinct in Britain in 1979, but efforts from private trusts and ecological associations created the world’s largest and most successful insect conservation program in the world, and from 1984 to 2008, it saw the large blue return to 30 previously occupied and new breeding sites.

The large blue’s recovery is a classic ‘web of life’ example of how animals and plants rely on one another to survive. It’s not enough to protect the butterflies, and scientists like those working at the Butterfly Conservation Trust have had to organize protection for wild thyme and red ants, two species that are integral parts of the large blue’s world.

Paul:Ritchie CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There have been attempts to repopulate the species previously, but the latest and largest took place at the Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons in Gloucestershire and involved careful preparation of the habitat. The area hasn’t had a documented sighting of a large blue in 150 years. The other requirement is a large population of a specific heat-loving red ant species. To help build up that population, cattle were brought to the Commons to graze and to their business, which warmed the soil and promoted ant colony growth.

And after a seemingly endless wait for them to complete their lifecycles, conservationists carefully inspected the area and found plenty of evidence that the butterflies laid eggs in the wild. That’s an amazing sign and points to a high likelihood that the butterfly population can continue on its own with only a careful guiding hand to ensure their habitat needs to stay plentiful.

h/t: CBBC Newsround


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fra298 CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Artist Visually Compares the Sizes of Extinct Species With Their Modern Relatives

Technology has evolved and shaped our workplaces in many ways. Photoshop, for instance, helps us take a glimpse at how we want things to appear. Although flawless photography is perhaps never possible without expensive shooting gear, digital photo can give us the solution to turn imperfect photographs into professional ones so easily. It helps us to explore creative thinking and thoughts. Even though they still remain digital, they’re pretty close to reality.

To illustrate, Roman Uchytel uses technology for this matter. He uses Photoshop to show us a glimpse of things that have passed and thus will never come back. More specifically, he recreates prehistoric extinct species of animals as best as he can using the information that he has now. And it can be said that he’s been doing indeed a good job at it. Furthermore, he even managed to publish a book which you can find here.

Luckily, Earthwonders managed to get in touch with Roman Uchytel and had an interview about one of his many series which will be presented below. Such series involve the comparison of the sizes of extinct species with their modern relatives and places them side by side. It’s truly interesting how some of the species were way bigger than we would’ve thought looking at their modern relatives. So, scroll down and check out the images!

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“We came up with this idea together with Alexandra Antonova (Uchytel), my wife and business partner, for our children to know what the ancestors (or relatives) of the animals they see in the zoo looked like. Besides, I’ve been wondering myself how these animals would fit together. Everyone compares extinct animals to humans, but no one compared them to contemporaries (descendants).” said Uchytel for Earthwonders.


When being asked if it’s challenging to come up with ideas and with the final results, he said “Of course, it’s a challenge because you do it for yourself and you never know if it will resonate with other people”.


“It was really unexpected for my pictures to become quite viral, because in today’s world, it’s very difficult to surprise anyone. But I’m glad that a lot of people are interested in extinct animals, because one of the missions of the Prehistoric Fauna project is to starting point for an international dialogue that could help preserve the remains of the megafauna, because many animals can die out again because of humans.”


“People’s reaction about these images was like a snowball reaction. Because a lot of people didn’t know that modern animals had such unusual ancestors.”
































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