“Leaf Sheep”, scientifically known as Costasiella kuroshimae, is an out-of-the-ordinary creature and is also the only known multicellular animal clade capable of photosynthesizing using light. Contrary to what its name tells us of its identity, it’s neither a sheep nor a leaf. Basically, it is an absurdly cute kind of sea slug who look like “shell-less snails.”
Its cute face and atypical shape have made this delicate creature a viral sensation on social media. A Twitter user uploaded a couple of photos showcasing the leaf sheep’s mouth, eyes, and cerata. Accordingly, it has a white face, black beady eyes, an antenna resembling that of insects, and cerata (leaf-life appendages) popping out of its surface. The cerata are somewhat like the aloe vera plant and have either pink, purple, or white tips. These cerata consist of algal chloroplasts, the organelles that mainly involve in the process of photosynthesis.
The antenna-like appendages on their head are called rhinophores. It helps them smell out algae and surrounding things while in the seawater.
Leaf sheep usually grow up to seven to eight millimeters in length. Generally, they’re found in areas next to coral reefs and live on algae to sucks their chloroplasts which can retain in the slugs’ cerata for up to 10 days. This process is known as ‘kleptoplasty’. In doing so, it supplements its diet through the power of the sun enabling them to survive for several months after photosynthesizing.
The leaf sheep is also called the “solar-powered sea slug” because of this photosynthetic ability.
It is indeed certain that leaf sheep are one of the cutest and extraordinary creatures to ever roam the earth. Being the only not-a-plant organism able to photosynthesize makes them even more exceptional.
Unfortunately, like most other organisms, they face several threats to survival. Though they are not in critical danger, habitat loss has posed a huge threat to these cute delicate creatures.
Enchanted by their irresistible charm, you must now be wanting to see one for real. Unfortunately, they are normally only seen in the waters of Japan making it extremely difficult to come across one by accident.
Just like its appearance, leaf sheep look unbearably adorable when it is in motion as well.