How Do Animals Get Energy From The Sun?


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Samuel Chiltern Profile
Samuel Chiltern answered
To put it briefly, animals get energy from the sun by eating plants. In order to flourish, these plants have had to capture the light energy that makes its way through our atmosphere.

There's a lot more to it than this, though - more than I could manage to explain - but I'll go into further detail in the rest of this answer.

Plants Act as Producers
In biology, plants are called producers. This is because they capture the sunlight, and use it to produce their own food as part of a process called photosynthesis.

Plants perform an essential process in converting energy from the sun, and without them, animal life on earth would be impossible.

Animals Act as Consumers
The animals that eat plants are known as herbivores but, in the context of this energy life-cycle, they are known as primary consumers.

Animals that eat other animals are called carnivores, and labelled as secondary consumers.

No animals are capable of producing their own food, and therefore they have to rely upon producers (or other animals) to create food for them.

The Laws of Thermodynamics
Understanding the basics behind the Laws of Thermodynamics is essential to understanding how animals get energy from the Sun.

The First Law of Thermodynamics tells us that energy can neither be created or destroyed - or, in other words, energy must come from somewhere, and then go somewhere.

The Second Law tells us how energy is converted from what's known as high quality to low quality.

Our understanding of energy transfer tells us that energy is converted from high-quality to low-quality energy when it is changed from one form to another.

We also know that, during this process, a large proportion of the original energy is lost to heat, and that this can be as much as 90% of the energy captured. Therefore, secondary consumers only get a small proportion of the energy originally captured by plants.
Janell Lynn Profile
Janell Lynn answered
By eating the vegetation that grows because of sunlight, or by eating other animals that eat vegetation. Humans, and possibly some other animals, get Vitamin D from being out in the sun too.

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