Here’s a creature concept design I came across on the DeviantART page of artist Douglas Hall (who goes by the DeviantART handle “semiconductor“).
The artist provided little information about the creature except that it feeds on electricity. He calls this animal a “conductor mite”.
The idea of a life-form feeding on electricity is not as crazy as it might sound. There’s actually a basis for this in nature. Scientists recently discovered bacteria here on Earth that feed on electrons, several species of them in fact. So called “electric bacteria” can be found living below ground in rocks and metals.
“Stick an electrode in the ground, pump electrons down it, and they will come: living cells that eat electricity.”
– Catherine Brahic, New Scientist Magazine
You can read more about “electric magazine” in this New Scientist Magazine article, but to cut a long story short the microscopic organisms function in a similar way to most animals, it’s just that they do it more efficiently. We consume sugar. Why sugar? Because sugar has extra electrons. Our cells break down the sugars, releasing those electrons and channelling them to the oxygen we inhale. By consuming pure electrons, the bacteria are simply cutting sugar out of the equation.
So, is the conductor mite feeding on pure electrons? It makes sense.
It’s also possible that the conductor mite has “electric bacteria” inside its body and has formed a symbiotic relationship with them, the same way that we have a symbiotic relationship with the bacteria in our guts.
See the green slime dribbling out of the sphincter below the creature’s eye? That could be faeces composed entirely of dead electric-eating bacteria (your faeces is mostly composed of dead bacteria too). It could also be mouth, or both.
What about the purple crystal on the creature’s back? Crystals make very poor conductors and are generally electrical insulators. I’m guessing the artist didn’t know that. However crystals can also be used to store energy, so applying a bit of creative sci-fi jiggery-pokery could lead us to assume that it’s just an energy reserve. To build this crystalline energy store, the conductor mite would need to consume food other than pure electricity, but it would likely be a very efficient animal nonetheless. Feeding on electrons present in its environment (and using the energy stored in its crystal) it could probably survive long periods without solid food.
Another creature that feeds on electrons is the Kzzt, an Alien August competition entry by Li Jia Yang.
Article by Mark Ball.
Artwork by Douglas Hall (AKA “semiconductor“).