Sheep Sea Slug Photosynthesizes Algae Inside Itself

July 22, 2015

sheep-sea-slug-1.jpg

These are a bunch of shots of Leaf Sheep (Costasiella kuroshimae), a species of sea slug that looks like a cartoon sheep and is capable of photosynthesizing algae inside its little penis shaped dingle thingies (I'm a biologist).

What's fascinating about the tiny 'leaf sheep,' which can grow up to 5mm in length and can be found near Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines, is that they are one of the only animals in the world that can perform photosynthesis (the others all belong to the sacoglossa sea slug clade). When they eat algae, they suck out the chloroplasts and incorporate them into their own bodies in a process called kleptoplasty.

I remember seeing a David Attenborough special that highlighted the other sea slugs that can do the same thing. They were not as cute though. Being cute gets you way further in life. Take me for example. "You are ugly as shit." And I am at rock bottom because of it.

Keep going for several more pictures of nature's newest Pokemon.

sheep-sea-slug-2.jpg

sheep-sea-slug-3.jpg

sheep-sea-slug-4.jpg

sheep-sea-slug-5.jpg

Thanks to Laura V, who made fun of me for asking if photosynthesizing is something you do in Photoshop.

  • Mike Gr

    Sheeps and bunnies and sea slugs, oh my!

  • Sebastiann Elegant√© Neely

    I think it looks more like a cow, since it looks like it has "horns".

  • Some sheep have horns too.

  • Darth_Spartan

    I want one as a pet, can this happen? I want next to my pet shark

  • It's 5mm long. How would that work?

  • Darth_Spartan

    Good point, I guess will have to get army of them.

  • Deksam

    It looks embarrassed.

  • Slartifartfast

    if you think those appendages are penis-shaped, you should see a doctor.

  • WronglyRabbit

    My doctor says their penis-shaped too.

  • dougfunnay

    i think the question here is what kind of penis?
    theres probably some kind of penis out there somewhere that looks like that

  • Patrick

    bunny sea slug is cuter

  • Jenness

    Somewhere some wealthy Japanese businessman has a huge aquarium with these in it because he has a sheep slug obsession.

  • Sebastiann Elegant√© Neely

    And honestly, who could blame him?

  • Gene Kaufman

    Looks like a neo-prog album cover to me.

  • Crazy Panther

    Cutest Sea Slug Ever. It looks like Claymation from England.

  • tim

    Wallace and Gromit and the Case of the Photosynthetic Sheep

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