Earlier today I read an article about a slug discovered that possibly produces chlorophyll. I posted it to my facebook, and sort of forgot about it. It was interesting to me, but not mind blowing: it just sort of fit in with the ways I’ve figured that nature worked, that is not fitting into simple reified categories.
Then Elaine posted on Vegan Soapbox about this slug with links to posts I have written about species being socially constructed, and the potentiality of trans-speciality. Now I’m looking at this creature again and several things are crossing my mind.
1. This thing lives along the Atlantic seaboard. I’ve been potentially co-existing with these things my entire life.
2. This slug isn’t trans-special, its species is Elysia chlorotica. They are amazing for a different reason.
3. To say that this animal is part plant is, I think, as dishonest as saying a sundew or venus flytrap is part animal. It was at least an animal first, regardless of what one would want to call it now.
4. Ever read Top Secret? It’s about a boy who becomes part plant in a science fair experiment where he consumes massive amounts of magnesium to try and convert hemoglobin into chlorophyll? I read it when I was seven and loved it. (The edition I read had a much cooler cover than the one on Amazon–it showed the boy with leaves coming off of his body and his skin turning green).
5. Could I one day produce chlorophyll? When will science do that? I’ve often done the collective daydreaming game when someone mentions how cool it would be to be part plant. Though as fantastic as that would be I would rather be part fungi, and not be dependent on the sun.
6. Black Tom Cassidy after being shot by Cable = plant powers. Any other X-Men fans?
7. The idea of this slug showing that the branches-of-the-tree-of-life aren’t the most adequate metaphor for evolution. Perhaps a paradigm shift to a view of evolution as a series of networks?
8. The slugs developed this ability possibly by ingesting photosynthetic algae. Algae aren’t plants. But I guess a headline of “Green Slug Discovered to be Part Animal, Part Eukaryote” doesn’t have the same ring.
9. Why are the only people I’ve heard talking about this vegan? We love talking about animals, mix in some photosynthesis and we are all over it.