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Sea slugs are awesome creatures. Previously we’ve seen a species…

Sea slugs are awesome creatures. Previously we’ve seen a species of sea slug that looks like a fluffy aquatic bunny and one that looks like a cartoon sheep. Now here’s a sea slug that looks like a beautiful bright green leaf! Elysia chlorotica, commonly known as the eastern emerald elysia, produces chlorophyll like plants in order to use photosynthesis to feed itself.

Some sea slugs obtain chlorophyll simply by eating algae, but Elysia chlorotica actually incorporates the genes from algae into its own DNA.

“That makes this little emerald animal the only known example of functional gene transfer from one multi-cellular species to another, and an amazing example of rapid evolution in the natural world.”

Head over to My Modern Met to learn about these exceptional sea slugs incorporate algae genes into their own genetic material.


Photos by Patrick Krug, Karen N. Pelletreau et al, and Nicholas E. Curtis and Ray Martinez respectively.

[via My Modern Met]

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