This atrium sculpture in the Meldrum Science Center was inspired by the genetic mutations readily seen in the variations of color and patterns in a butterfly's wing. The structure takes a spiral form symbolic of a DNA double helix and the colors follow the solar spectrum.
The color patterns of a butterfly wing are very different from the spots and stripes of leopards and zebras. In butterflies, the same spot or stripe occurs in exactly the same location in all individuals of a species and can be traced from species to species within a genus. Of the more than 17,000 species of butterfly, most can be distinguished by their wing colors. Variation in wing patterns in particular species has been used to study natural selection, genetic variation, and aspects of pattern development.