From: Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM, More from this Affiliate
Published June 10, 2013 06:19 AM

The Giant hot pink slug

The Hot Pink slugs that emerge after rainy nights have become a conservation symbol for alpine forests on Australia's Mount Kaputar, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

The slugs, which measure up to 20 centimeters (8 inches), are only found on Mount Kaputar, a volcano that last erupted 17 million years ago. They spend most of their time buried under leaf litter, but emerge by the hundreds when conditions are right to feed on moss, algae, and fungi. While their fluorescent coloration may seem jarring, it actually helps them blend in with brightly-colored eucalyptus leaves that cover the forest floor.

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The slug, Triboniophorus aff. graeffei, shares its habitat with carnivorous land snails that are also unique to the mountaintop, according to recent research. Based on the presence of the species and the uniqueness of the ecosystem, which represents a remnant of a type of forest that once covered much of eastern Australia, but disappeared once Australia separated from the supercontinent Gondwana some 180 million years ago, the New South Wales Scientific Committee recently moved to list the site as an "endangered ecological community", granting it the highest level of protected status.

Photo by Michael Murphy of the National Parks and Wildlife Service

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