Popular Science News | Animal Photosynthesis?

Popular Science News – Animal photosynthesis should be a contradiction. Basic biology tells us that plants have green cells which turn sunlight into sugar and animals eat the plants to get this sugar. Basic classification puts living creatures into categories because of this ability. If it photosynthesises then it’s a plant. But now there appears to be an animal which breaks this rule and is both an animal and a plant.

Well, they’ve found aphids which have pigments capable of converting sunlight into sugar. Unfortunately they don’t actually do it. Photosynthesis uses sunlight, carbon dioxide and water to produce sugar. The substance in plants which does this is chlorophyll. Well the aphids have the chlorophyll-like compounds but that’s it. Unfortunately, an article was produced in Nature magazine which had a headline which said ‘photosynthesis-like process found in insects’ and this was picked up by the media who missed the correction at the bottom of the article:

‘Corrected: the original headline of the piece incorrectly implied that the researchers had discovered evidence of photosynthesis in aphids. In fact, photosynthesis requires carbon dioxide to be ‘fixed’ and turned into organic compounds.’

From now on they’ll be saying that aphids photosynthesise and no one will remember the correction which said they don’t. Don’t you just love journalists.


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