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Solar-Powered Animal, Oriental Hornet, Discovered By Tel-Aviv Scientists

Hornet

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 12/24/10 01:38 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:20 PM ET

Apparently even insects are jumping on the solar power bandwagon. A recent breakthrough discovery conducted at Tel-Aviv University has found that the Oriental hornet can turn light into electricity.

The study, reported on in the journal Naturwissenschaften, began when scientists observed that unlike other wasps, the Oriental hornet is most active in the middle of the day. Further investigation revealed that UVB radiation affects the hornet's activity level.

It turns out that an Oriental hornet's shell can trap sunlight, while the pigment xanthopterin converts it to energy. This explains why the hornet is most active mid-day.

Now, this bug isn't exactly the most energy efficient form of solar power. According to National Geographic, the hornet's cells are about .3% efficient at generating electricity. The majority of his energy comes from food. Still, the discovery is fascinating, as study leader Marian Plotkin explains, "We've seen solar harvesting in plants and bacteria, but never before in animals."

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