I thought of extreme conditions without sunlight as the main source of energy for an ecosystem. Winds can be found pretty much everywhere, from ocean currents to interstellar winds.

What kind of system would a lifeform require to harvest the winds?

Unnatural things (magic and bolstered laws of physics etc...) are allowed up to some unspecified extent.

Some people seem to have problem with lack of information so let me provide some.

#001 What kind of planet?

This planet is a cold and dark place. No sunlight, no chemical energy, no heat, etc.. Only wind for some unknown reason. The wind part is "pseudomagic" so let's skip it. My basis for this idea was the strong winds of Neptune.

#002 What kind of lifeform?

Really any kind of lifeform would be sufficient. I brought up this question because as far as I'm aware kinetic and chemical energy don't mix up really well and there are not any lifeforms on earth that directly use wind for energy source. Birds do use it to fly, but not for bodily functions while plantlife uses it to carry pollen and spores for fungi, but none of these are actual biological functions.

  • $\begingroup$ So, you want life to evolve on a planet where there is no start near enough to provide light? BTW: Welcome to WorldBuilding! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Nov 20 '17 at 12:45
  • $\begingroup$ There is not enough common energy sources so to speak. Like heat, light, chemical energy etc... Only winds. My basis for this idea was winds of neptune. Really cold and dark enviroment with immense winds. $\endgroup$ Nov 20 '17 at 12:47
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    $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "absorb energy"? I can think of ways to use the energy like having a mesh in the stomach where, rather than the creature having to break down its food, the wind can force food through or how birds use the wind to conserve their energy in flight. Are you imagining something like this or do you want a creature with a turbine on its head? $\endgroup$ Nov 20 '17 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ Literally a lifeform that utilizes kinetic energy for bodily functions. $\endgroup$ Nov 20 '17 at 13:07

There's no need for magic to turn wind into energy. All you need is a piezoelectric substance. Many biological substances, such as sucrose, bone, and various proteins, give off an electric charge when mechanically deformed (by squeezing for example). If such a compound is stored in the joint of a paddle, and the paddle is allowed to flap in the wind, a charge will build up in that joint. Such a charge can be used to push ions through a membrane (as in the proton pump of a mitochondrion) to phosphorolate ADP into ATP. Or you could go with some more alien biochemistry, but the principle should work anyway.

As to why such "kinetosynthesis" would evolve, I think it's reasonable to assume that a tidally locked planet would have little light on its night side, but lots of wind (from hot air passing over the terminator). That seems like a good environment for kinetotropes.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree that if biology can turn energy into movement it can turn movement into energy. I usualy add don't for get add electron tranport because you need electrons for actually chemical synthesis. (NADP+ to NADPH) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… . But this would not effect the creature at the macro level. $\endgroup$
    – P Chapman
    Nov 20 '17 at 15:22

First of, there is no wind or sea current without differences in temperature, so you will probably need magic. Also I don't know if using the wind as a primary energy source is necessary, so I will assume it is not.

There are many possibilities how to make these creatures work. But only a limited number that I can think of.

Possible energy sources are:

  1. minerals to chemicals to energy (chemical reactions)

  2. radiation (creatures would use some other form of radiation that is available)

  3. parasite (steals energy from others)

  4. mechanical force (this is in the realm of fantasy, I don't think this could ever work)

EDIT: I was wrong! Here is how wind powered creature could work

Some not very original ideas:

Free flight (glowing fluff balls < my name for these)

The creatures are very light and amoeba or dandelion seed like. They harvest minerals that are floating along with them, catching them with their hairs (or in case of amoebas, letting these particles ram into their gelatinous bodies so they can eat them). Then with these minerals they will make some sort of chemical reaction and harvest that energy.

Flailing tails

Could be a plant. They have long branches that flail freely in the wind and through some magic they gain energy this way. They could be parasitic and steal energy from fluff balls.

Hulking pipes

Big rhino like creature, it catches wind in its mouth along with all the dust and fluff balls that get digested by its bacteria. It could also eat flailing tails.

Critters and fungi

Small bugs and fungi that live underground or in areas with slow winds near sources of radiation. (uranium ore)

  • $\begingroup$ I added more detail to the post. And yes. The primary energy for bodily functions should be wind. Because there are no life on earth that does this I asked about it here. $\endgroup$ Nov 20 '17 at 13:04

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