From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published September 28, 2010 05:45 PM

New Sea Slug

Slug is not an appetizing term but they are part of the world ecology and can be quite colorful, Strange new species are also not just found in exotic and isolated locales. In this case a new species of sea slug is claimed to have been found in a California tidal pool.

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This is what happened to Jeff Goddard, project scientist with the Marine Science Institute at UC Santa Barbara.

Slug is a common name that is normally applied to any gastropod mollusk that lacks a shell, has a very reduced shell, or has a small internal shell. This is in contrast to the common name snail, which is applied to gastropods that have coiled shells that are big enough to retract into.

All slugs are descended from snails that gradually lost or reduced their shells over time. The various groups of slugs are not closely related, despite a superficial similarity in the overall body form.

Like land snails, most slugs have two pairs of 'feelers' or tentacles on their head. The upper pair is light sensing, while the lower pair provides the sense of smell. Both pairs are retractable, and can be regrown if lost.

A slug moves by rhythmic waves of muscular contraction on the underside of its foot. It simultaneously secretes a layer of mucus on which it travels, which helps prevent damage to the foot tissues.

Goddard was working in the tide pools at Carpinteria Reef, in California, when he found a new species of nudibranch — a group of sea slugs noted for their bright colors and delicate forms. Recognizing it as new, Goddard carefully documented the living specimen before preserving it and sending it off to Terrence M. Gosliner, an authority on the taxonomy of sea slugs at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Goddard kept the slug in his lab for a few days, until it laid an egg mass, and was also able to observe its early development and hatching larvae.

Gosliner named the new sea slug after Goddard when he described it and one other newly discovered species of California nudibranch in the September 15 online edition of the Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences.

The finding of a new species of anything in a place where one does not expects it is always astounding. New species are more often found in isolated locations such as a mountain top or island setting.

The scientific name is Flabellina goddardi, and it measures about 30 millimeters long when stretched out and crawling. The genus Flabellina also includes the well-known "Spanish shawl" nudibranch, Flabellina iodinea. Goddardi is now the fifth species of Flabellina known from California. Flabellina is a genus of sea slugs, specifically aeolid nudibranchs.

Among this group can be found the most colorful creatures on earth. In the course of evolution, sea slugs have lost their shell because they have developed other defense mechanisms. The anatomy of this group may resemble the texture and color of the surrounding plants, allowing them to camouflage. Others have an intense and bright coloring, which warns that they are distasteful or poisonous

For the scientific record, Goddard describes the new species as "characterized externally by its smooth rhinophores; long tail and cephalic tentacles; pointed foot corners; red and orange tipped cerata; and lack of pigmentation on the head, body and head tentacles."

For further information: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/24143

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