Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Thought experiment #1


I had a striking idea in class. Why are most plants green? I understand its because of the chlorophyll's pigment which is meant to absorb sunlight in photosynthesis. (Keep in mind my biology education ended after freshman year high school so don't quote me on any of this). The reason for the green pigment, to my understanding, is because green is a very efficient color for photosynthesis which is why most photosynthesizing organisms are not red or blue but green. However, if the pigment is meant for optimal energy intake, wouldn't a black pigment be best? It would allow most, if not all, ranges of light to absorb the most energy. That got me thinking, What would the animals then look like? They would probably be all or mostly black pigmented skin or fur. For the sake of simplicity, let's say that all vegetation lost any other pigment and are entirely black. That makes camouflage simple, all the animals are black. This would result in the loss of sight because everything is black. I then assumed that creatures would be sensitive to heat or infrared so they'd have some sense of organisms around them. I left this thought alone to move on to how the creatures would combat the constant overflow of heat from the black pigment. One option is that the black pigment was viable because the planet is very windy or very rainy (at this point, I placed these new creatures on a different planet). If the planet was very windy, I decided that the animals and plants would secrete a mucus to prevent drying out. If it was very rainy, I would say the animals would continue to secrete a hydrophobic mucus. I decided to go with the very windy planet because the animals could then feed off of the mucus or othe secretions. I then thought about the bark of the vegetation. Perhaps it would would still be rough, in which case the tongues of the animals would be very hard and callus. I thought screw it, this is a new world, lets make all plant structures have smooth surfaces. Of course this would leave the plants vulnerable to microbial infection or other animals eating away at the plant so the mucus would also serve as a toxin. Different plants were toxic to different animals but fine for others. Then I had a bizzar idea: what if the creatures and plants that I was creating were actually the same species? A cross-kingdom gender where instead of male and female there is rooted and mobile. As a friend put it (and yes she thought I was high) they were planimals...or chia pets but I liked planimals more. Just to be clear, I have been picturing the plants as bark-less trees and the animals as a hairless cross between a mole and a dog. As to how they would reproduce, I thought that it would be similar to angler fish. The mobile would latch on to the rooted and just merge. The result would be a sapling of some sort. I figured this species could branch out into two variations. First, the sapling would be poisonous so that it would not be eaten and then develop into a rooted or mobile creature and remain that way for the rest of its life. The other option was that the sapling would act more like a jellyfish reproduces. The fertilized egg falls somewhere to expand and sprout infant jellyfish except in this case, infant mobiles will spawn and the remaining tissue would develop into a rooted organism. Once again, I was also not high unless you count being sleep deprived and my knowledge of biology is very limited so i doubt much of this would even be possible. I don't plan one visiting this strange world of black planimals but I do hope that it has interested you as much as it interested me in class