Did you know that one kind of sea slug (an animal like us) can photosynthesize nutrients like algae (which are plants, more or less)? Along with being able to eat like any other self-respecting animal, the elysia chlorotica has chloroplasts and the requisite DNA to use them. If something as lowly as a slug can do this, why not us? Let’s make this happen.
Then there’s the question of whether a photosynthesizing animal is still merely an animal, rather than a planimal©. For some, the answer might depend on how these slugs became so nifty. One camp recently reported research that supports a two-step process:
- the incorporation of algal DNA into the sea slug’s chromosomes at some unknown time and the transmission of said DNA to offspring through reproduction
- the incorporation of chloroplasts into the sea slug’s cells by eating algae.
Because, in this scenario, these sea slugs inherit and pass down DNA taken from algae, we might argue that the critters are now animalgae©.
Spoilsports (possibly the majority of experts) contend that each such sea slug ingests both the algal DNA and the chloroplasts, without passing down the DNA to offspring.
But, for our purposes, so what? Whether it’s through reproduction or munching or boffins using tiny tweezers, the Elysia chlorotica has DNA and photosynthesizes like algae: animalgae again.
For our part, when we at last suss out the sea slug’s secrets, seek sunlight, and run on sweet solar power, we will properly call ourselves human beens and humant© (human + plant) beings.