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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Greek to me!

A male Gorgon Copper (Lycaena gorgon), photographed along Pine Flat Road on 2 May 2015.

So you have to wonder about that name, don't you?  I wasn't sure what "Gorgon" referred to...and after looking around, I'm still not completely sure.

A gorgon is a female creature of Greek mythology.  The three most famous gorgons are Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa.  Yes, that Medusa, with snakes for hair, who could turn people into stone.

But why would this butterfly be named after them?  I found one reference to their hands/claws being made of brass.  Could there be a connection between the color of the butterfly and the hands of the gorgons?  

I also noticed references to "gorgon coins" ancient coins embossed with the disembodied head of Medusa.  Were some of these coins copper colored?  Did the color of this butterfly make Boisduval, who named it, think of gorgon coins?

If you know the answer, I'd love to hear the story.

I also wondered about what to call the background color of the wings.  Can you see the pinkish tinge to the underside of the wings in the picture above?  Well, my mind wanted a name for that color, but I wasn't certain what it would be.

What do you think?

You'll laugh at me.  I could have trusted my eyes and just compared the photos to some color swatches.  But I decided to use the color sampler in Adobe Photoshop.  I sampled the butterfly wing, and then compared it to some imported Pantone color samples. 

The closest color matches?  Pastel Rose Tan, Rosewater, and Rose Smoke depending on where I sampled the wing. You can evaluate these colors on the Pantone website if you'd like (search for "rose" in the color finder): http://www.pantone.com/pages/pantone/colorfinder.aspx

This Gorgon Copper generated some mysteries!

P.S.  Eric remembered the gorgon from Dungeons & Dragons "a magical beast that resembles a bull covered in dusky, metallic scales" (description from Wikipedia).  Based on the Greek gorgons, it sounds like the bull-like depiction might have been misplaced, but there's yet another reference to a metal!

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