Fastcompany
Hard Science

This Glow-In-The-Dark Pet Is Actually Alive

What It Is

The innovative company Yonder Biology is looking to help kids get a genuine appreciation for the sciences—specifically, they want to get them interested in biology. And if you ask me, it seems that their latest product is pretty much perfect: A dinosaur made of molded plastic and filled with bioluminescent algae that glows in the dark.

The Dino Pet, while shaped like a dinosaur, actually gets its name from the dinoflagellate algae it contains, which produces the characteristic blue glow for a short time when its container is shaken. An algae-filled bottle may sound like an unusual pet, but the dinoflagellates used are safe and non-toxic for children.

Also, it helps with teaching a child to care for living things, it isn’t difficult to do (so great for younger kids), and it even glows brighter as a response to being treated well.

How To Use It

To create its product, Yonder Biology first ensured that it could maintain a steady supply of dinoflagellates. They also found that polyethylene-based plastic was the best container for the algae, and it showcased the glow effect the best. The Dino Pet container can hold about 500 ml (17 oz) of salt water, dinoflagellates, and the nutrients required to nourish them.

The dinoflagellates within the Dino Pet are easy enough to care for.

The child simply needs to place the Dino Pet in an area with indirect sunlight or with a low watt bulb for about 10-12 hours. The ideal temperature for the algae to thrive is between 18 to 24° C (65 and 75° F). Supplied only with light, the dinoflagellates can survive for up to three months. When nutrients are provided, though, they can live for much longer. A liter of Dino Food and regularly changing the water can sustain the algae for up to six months.

In order to start mass production of the Dino Pet container, and to propagate enough dinoflagellates to supply the expected demand, Yonder Biology launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise US$50,000. Now, you can get your own here.

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