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The Leaf Sheep Can Photosynthesize And Eat Light!


The Leaf Sheep Can Photosynthesize And Eat Light!


It’s time to meet one of the strangest animals on earth. They’re a form of sea slug called Leaf Sheep. The most striking thing about Leaf Sheep is that they remove the chloroplasts from the algae they eat and collect them in external tubular structures called rhinophores. The collected algal chloroplasts continue to produce sugars when exposed to sunlight, which provides a supplemental food source to the Leaf Sheep, a benefit when regular food is scarce. In a sense, they eat light!

The Leaf Sheep is a type of gastropod mollusk that scientists call Costasiella kuroshimae. The tiny Leaf Sheep measure only 0.15 to 0.40 inches (4 to 10 millimeters).

That’s not all, there are more fun facts about Leaf Sheep. They are bioluminescent from their absorbed chloroplasts. The Leaf Sheep are also hermaphroditic, meaning they’re both male and female. They can lay between 2,000 to 4,000 eggs, which hatch in four days. Leaf Sheep typically live in the waters around Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines. They like intertidal zones that are covered during high tides and exposed during low tides. The Leaf Sheep was first discovered in Japan in 1993.

More information can be found here.

Top image: Christian Gloor/ Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0).

Leaf Sheep

Image: Pascal van de Vendel/ Unsplash.


Leaf Sheep

Image: Swanson Chan/ Unsplash.

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David Shiller
David Shiller is the Publisher of LightNOW, and President of Lighting Solution Development, a North American consulting firm providing business development services to advanced lighting manufacturers. The ALA awarded David the Pillar of the Industry Award. David has co-chaired ALA’s Engineering Committee since 2010. David established MaxLite’s OEM component sales into a multi-million dollar division. He invented GU24 lamps while leading ENERGY STAR lighting programs for the US EPA. David has been published in leading lighting publications, including LD+A, enLIGHTenment Magazine, LEDs Magazine, and more.


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