Elysia Chlorotica – Half Sea Slug, Half Leaf!

picture-8(image via Nicholas E. Curtis and Ray Martinez @ wired.com)

SuperForesters, meet Elysia chlorotica, a little slug with an incredible talent.
This wily little creature has figured out a way to hybridize itself with the algae colonies it eats and thus is able to photosynthesize its own food. Meaning this slug can sunbathe to eat. Meaning this animal is part plant!

Wild! Check it:

“The slug readily sucks the innards out of algal filaments whenever they’re available, but in good light, multiple meals aren’t essential. Scientists have shown that once a young slug has slurped its first chloroplast meal from one of its few favored species of Vaucheria algae, the slug does not have to eat again for the rest of its life. All it has to do is sunbathe.”

Susan Milius @ Wired.com

(If a slug can do it, why can’t we? With gene therapy, a human capable of photosynthesis is theoretically possible. I for one would happily eat only sunlight for the rest of my life, even if it meant I had slightly green skin and had a tendency to fall out of trees come Autumn. :)

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