A living dinosaur toy that emits a soothing, glowing light and puts on a wondrous show at night? Sign us up for a Dino Pet! The bioluminescent 3D-printed apatosaurus uses real dinoflagellates to create a unique, living nightlight! BioPop’s Dino Pet delights both kids and adults because it’s a “pet” that requires very little clean-up and encourages a sense of responsibility in children. In August of 2013, the minds at Yonder Biology created a Kickstarter campaign to fund their design for a toy that would combine science education with a sense of wonder. Blasting past their initial goal of $50,000, the Dino Pet is ready to head out to homes across the world under their newly formed company, BioPop. Read on to learn how Dino Pet comes to life.

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Using a modified form of the marine algae Pyrocystis fusiformis, the Dino Pet only needs to be fed every four to six weeks with its own special form of Dino Food. After adding water and dinoflagellates to the polyethylene plastic container, the little prehistoric pet is ready to be placed near a window or location out of direct sunlight to begin to photosynthesize. The Dino Pet can be filled several different ways to produce a variety of effects once shaken. The algae is derived from a species that lives off the shores of San Diego, and East Coasters will have to wait to until the dinoflagellates adjust their circadian rhythms if they want to watch the tiny organisms do their stuff before 10pm EST.

As a companion to the DinoPet, the BioPop team created “A Dino’s Talestorybook that follows a brave little dino and his lightning bug companion, Lampy. On his journey, Dino discovers what makes him glow and explains the basics of bioluminescent biology. The Dino Pet will be ready to ship this October at a price of $59.95. The storybook is an extra $20.00, and Dino refills will set you back about $50.00.

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To check out the Dino Pet and BioPop’s other projects that blend popular culture and science, head over to their official website.

+ BioPop