Thuridilla gracilis

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Thuridilla gracilis
48-EastTimor-Dive1 Behau Village 26 (Nudibranch Thuridilla-Gracilis)-APiazza.JPG
Scientific classification
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Species:
T. gracilis
Binomial name
Thuridilla gracilis
(Risbec, 1928)

Thuridilla gracilis is a species of sea slug, a sacoglossan, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Plakobranchidae. It is an Indo-Pacific species that lives in or near coral reefs and eats algae.

In biology, a species is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, morphology, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined. While these definitions may seem adequate, when looked at more closely they represent problematic species concepts. For example, the boundaries between closely related species become unclear with hybridisation, in a species complex of hundreds of similar microspecies, and in a ring species. Also, among organisms that reproduce only asexually, the concept of a reproductive species breaks down, and each clone is potentially a microspecies.

Sea slug group of marine invertebrates with varying levels of resemblance to terrestrial slugs

Sea slug is a common name for some marine invertebrates with varying levels of resemblance to terrestrial slugs. Most creatures known as sea slugs are actually gastropods, i.e. they are sea snails that over evolutionary time have either completely lost their shells, or have seemingly lost their shells due to having a greatly reduced or internal shell. The name "sea slug" is most often applied to nudibranchs, as well as to a paraphyletic set of other marine gastropods without obvious shells.

Sacoglossa order of molluscs

Sacoglossa, commonly known as the sacoglossans or the "sap-sucking sea slugs", are a clade of small sea slugs and sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks that belong to the clade Heterobranchia. Sacoglossans live by ingesting the cellular contents of algae, hence the adjective "sap-sucking".

Contents

Distribution and habitat

This species occurs in the Tropical Indo/West-Pacific. It lives on the external slope of coral reefs, on top of the reef and in the lagoon, usually in shallow water.

Coral reef Outcrop of rock in the sea formed by the growth and deposit of stony coral skeletons

A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals. Reefs are formed of colonies of coral polyps held together by calcium carbonate. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, whose polyps cluster in groups.

Lagoon A shallow body of water separated from a larger body of water by barrier islands or reefs

A lagoon is a shallow body of water separated from a larger body of water by barrier islands or reefs. Lagoons are commonly divided into coastal lagoons and atoll lagoons. They have also been identified as occurring on mixed-sand and gravel coastlines. There is an overlap between bodies of water classified as coastal lagoons and bodies of water classified as estuaries. Lagoons are common coastal features around many parts of the world.

Description

This species can be up to 25 mm in size. The body is partially covered by the fold of the lateral parapodia. The mantle is black and crossed by multiple fine white longitudinal lines (eight to ten) punctuated sometimes with blue spots. The border of the lapel of the parapodia and rhinophores is often orange. The smooth rhinophores can be whitish without any lines.

Mantle (mollusc) Part of the anatomy of molluscs

The mantle is a significant part of the anatomy of molluscs: it is the dorsal body wall which covers the visceral mass and usually protrudes in the form of flaps well beyond the visceral mass itself.

Rhinophore

A rhinophore is one of a pair of chemosensory club-shaped, rod-shaped or ear-like structures which are the most prominent part of the external head anatomy in sea slugs, marine gastropod opisthobranch mollusks such as the nudibranchs (Nudibranchia), Sea Hares, (Aplysiomorpha) and sap-sucking sea slugs (Sacoglossa).

Biology

This species is benthic and diurnal. Because of its aposematic coloration, it crawls around to feed in the daylight. It has a diet based on algae.

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References

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