Could a species, over centuries of evolution, evolve a special organ that stores pure energy and allows it to control its own magnetic field? What possible steps would have to happen for this to occur? Also, do you think its skin would be would be as hard as lead to contain it?

I'd like to thank everyone who answered my silly question nearly all the information you shared has been very helpful.

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    $\begingroup$ There is no such thing as "pure energy", that's just pseudo-sci-fi silliness. "Centuries of evolution" also betrays a certain lack of scope sensitivity on your part :) What kind of "magnetic field" do you have in mind? Fish commonly use magnetic fields to orient themselves and sense other fish in the water. If you specifically mean being able to magnetically attract stuff... how would that be any useful? Most things aren't ferromagnetic, and even those that are cannot be attracted over any meaningful distance. You need to think about the environment in which traits like this would be useful. $\endgroup$
    – Luaan
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 8:36
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    $\begingroup$ Like @Luaan says, pure energy is not a thing. Every energy "type" has a physical carrier of sorts. Electrons for electrical energy, molecular bonds for chemical energy etc. Energy can't be "pure", it has to be connected to some material form. And evolution works on millions of years, centuries are nothing. $\endgroup$
    – Davor
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 9:13
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    $\begingroup$ It's called fat and glycogen. Most likely you even have both of them yourself. A special organ for that? What about organs that also store glycogen or fat? Seems way more intuitive. You even have a very weak magnetic field, I do not know how they are connected though. As for evolution: Since magnetic fields are mostly pretty useless biologically (yes, I'm aware of some "theories" debating about the chirality and magnetic fields) there is no way a species would evolve to control that magnetic field for no reason. "Centuries" of evolution is also laughably short unless you are very small ... $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 11:00
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    $\begingroup$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. $\endgroup$
    – Gryphon
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ I'm chock full of pure potential energy $\endgroup$
    – A C
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 17:41

1 Answer 1


Storing Energy

Surprisingly, most creatures already do this! Fats built up on the body contain Chemical potential energy, as does glucose molecules in cells. This definitely isn't storing lightning in your veins, but organic flesh isn't very good with electricity as we know it.

Fat itself contains around 9 calories per gram, which is about 37kJ of raw energy waiting to happen. 1 kilo of fat contains 37,656 kilojoules of energy. This is actually rather impressive, compared to our modern batteries, which usually contain around 360 - 900 kj/kg, human fat is a lot better at storing energy than a literal battery in your chest.

Comparison of Energy Densities

Storing "Pure" Energy

Energy isn't something that can really be pure, but it does have a lot of forms, the one you're probably thinking of when you say "Pure" energy is probably Electrical Energy.

There are two ways to go about doing this in a "Safe" way.

The first, is to store Electrical Potential Energy rather than the energy itself.

This means storing the means to generate electricity, rather then the pure electricity, like a traditional battery. If you want examples of how a creature can evolve this, look no further than the Electric Eel. It contains pairs of organs referred to as Electric Organs, which essentially uses ATP, which is cell energy, to generate electricity, much like a muscle does. In the eel, this produces either low or high voltage zaps, in this theoretical creature, it may be able to create a magnetic field. This is probably the best method, as it's the safest, and uses the body's already supple energy to charge.

The second is to actually store electricity itself in a highly conductive organ, preferably a 100% efficient conductor, surrounded tightly by insulation. Both of these factors are highly important, and are likely reasons that an organ like this wouldn't evolve. If the conductor isn't conductive enough, power will drain from the system slowly, and the organ will unnaturally heat up. If the insulator isn't effective, the power could leak, and potentially stop the creature's heart. This doesn't even go into the idea of how one would charge the battery.

Magnetic Field Control

Now, Magnetic Fields can't really be stopped, there's nothing really practical that can be done to reduce the passive magnetic field that organisms put out, but it's theoretically possible for a creature to create their own stronger magnetic field.

Electricity flowing through a wire (or a particularly conductive organ) will generate a magnetic field no matter what, which is why Magnetroception can be used to detective movement of living things, But if you want a particularly strong magnetic field, you'd need to move a lot of electricity through a small space, usually a coil; This is the concept of an Electromagnet.

If the creature can produce a sort of organic wire, probably from a mineral like iron, it would be possible to coil it up somewhere, and send power from the previously mentioned energy storage methods through it. This comes with many of the similar risks as the lightning box did, that is, energy leaks could stop the heart, or the tissue not being conductive enough wasting energy, but it is theoretically evolutionarily possible.

Evolution of a Magnet Organ.

For a creature to evolve something, it needs to be useful early in it's development; evolution isn't particular fast, and it does not favor the useless. But if the world this creature lives on is incredibly rich in a ferromagnetic mineral, so much so that most creatures are digesting it, it could be favourable for a creature to generate their own weak magnetic current, to pull food towards them, and that in the like, although this is a bit of a stretch.

It seems the most probable way for a creature to evolve this organ, is for it to first evolve the organ required for electrical production, probably to shock prey much like our eel friend, and then from there adapt it to magnetisation, for some unknown gain.

Citations provided where possible, much of this is speculation

  • $\begingroup$ This actually seems really plausible, and I love it. Please rush me my tractor-beam equipped eels. Also the answer is just a superb answer in general. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 9:15
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    $\begingroup$ The magnetic field generated could be used to confuse creatures using magnetroception, trapping/confusing homing pigeons or similar. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ How do you like my ferromagnetic stretch? :D It pulls food forward, but not in the way you probably had in mind. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 11:59
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    $\begingroup$ Since mitochondria store and actively pump protons (Hydrogen ions) between two membranes for use as the cell's energy source, I don't think that electricity storage or charging the battery are problems at all. That's exactly how you work already! $\endgroup$
    – Useless
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ If it's a filter feeder, it pulls things in a slow current. If it has pray that builds little shells out of little iron bits, it might use an electromagnet pulse to pull them quickly to the mouth so the teeth can then grab it. $\endgroup$
    – Jacobm001
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 18:11

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