News from the University of South Florida at Tampa reveals that the sea slug, Elysia chlorotica, may have acquired its shiny green coat by more than random mutation, Wired reports. Dr. Sidney Pierce, a professor for their Department of Integrative Biology, who studied the hybrid creature, ran a radioactive tracer through the little bugger and determined that the slug wasn’t just utilizing chlorophyll from the algae it eats, but it seems to have developed the ability to produce the photosynthesizing pigment on its own. According to the research, the first meal after birth for the slug is, of course, of delicious algae, which the slug breaks down in digestion, but not completely.
It leaves the chloroplasts alone, incorporating the plant functions into its fleshy form. After that initial meal, the slug no longer has to ingest anything ever again. This is big news in the animal world, being the first documented instance of genetic-crossing between multi-celled organisms (single-celled organisms have an easy time swapping DNA). Being a sci-fi nerd, and a futurist, this has got my neurons pulsing with the possibilities of cracking this ability and breeding it in humans:
No more starvation – people can just step outside to get a quick meal. PETA would be pleased with the dissolution of slaughterhouses. A day at the beach would substitute the buffet. It does bear to mind a question though: would those crispy-looking a-holes on Jersey Shore be considered gluttons?