More on non-drooling autotrophs

My earlier post “Autotrophs don’t actually drool“, which references the Big Bang Theory song, is one that gets some of the most hits on this site. Go figure. Apparently lots of people are doing searches for drooling autotrophs. But since that post doesn’t actually explain what autotrophs are, I think those people are going away disappointed. So here’s the skinny:

“Troph” refers to eating. Autotrophs produce their own food (through photosynthesis or chemosynthesis), while heterotrophs consume other things (herbivores, carnivores, detritivores, decomposers). Drooling involves a mouth. Autotrophs, since they produce their own food, don’t have mouths, and don’t drool. (And to pre-empt those who would trot out Euglena as both an autotroph and a heterotroph, and therefore does eat, I will point out that it does so through phagocytosis. It doesn’t have a mouth.)

5 thoughts on “More on non-drooling autotrophs

  1. gmhut

    Abbreviating the history of the universe in 15 seconds of song might be well suited to a metaphorical leap or two. Jumping from a cooled earth to neanderthals developing tools is a good place such a leap. “The autotrophs began to drool” sounds to me like a whimsical description of evolution from single cell organism, not that autotrophs literally began to drool.

    1. ed

      Mike made a similar observation on the other post on this topic. Metaphorical for the autotrophs becoming heterotrophs, which eventually began to drool. I can accept that as reasonable use of artistic license 🙂

  2. Emily

    My husband told me tonight when listening to the theme song of TBBT and proclaiming yet again that an autotroph, by definition, cannot drool, that I should see if this is a common question on Google. Apparently it is, and you have confirmed exactly what he was explaining to me, night after night. Thanks for the concise explanation

    As an aside, I have caught a few errors or misnomers in TBBT before, but my field of expertise is social science. As a soft science, I’m sure the consultant attends to those details less carefully! 🙂 Unfortunately, the physics is beyond me!

  3. Steve Griesham

    It was the act of an autotroph drooling that made neologisms necessary to label a new form of life in the evolutionary chain of events. Before that, it was simply known as a drooling autotroph.


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