Nothing is Weirder than the Truth, Part 2: Kleptoplasty

My last post about how came from history. This one comes from biology.1 is the ability of one organism to steal the intact cells—and incorporate some of the abilities of—another organism. The term is most frequently used to describe how certain sea slugs can retain and utilize the chloroplasts and (as far as I understand this)2 genetic material of algae after ingestion so that they can photosynthesize; in somewhat plainer English, the slugs eat the algae and afterward can be considered to be . Depending on the species, the slugs are able to photosynthesize for anywhere from a few days to several months.

As a sheer natural phenomenon, it’s pretty crazy, a little bit like someone being able to sprout wings after eating a live chicken. It’s also a shot across the bow to creation science, as it may be an honest-to-God example of a species in the early stages of from one type of animal into another—the paucity of obvious cases of which creation scientists use to argue against the theory of evolution. Sorry, guys.


1 Thanks to a friend who’s also a PhD candidate in oceanography for this one.

2 People who know more about biology than I do—and believe me, it doesn’t take much to know more about biology than I do—are hereby welcomed and encouraged to walk all over this post.

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