Sea Sheep?

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This Adorable Sea Slug Eats So Much Algae It Can Photosynthesize.

It’s a sheep! It’s a cow! No, it’s Costasiella kuroshimae (or ‘Leaf Sheep’ for short). This adorable little sea slug, whose beady eyes and cute feelers make it look like a cartoon sheep, feeds on algae – just like the real thing!

Image credits: Lynn Wu
Image credits: Lynn Wu

What’s fascinating about the tiny ‘leaf sheep,’ which can grow up to 5mm in length and can be found near Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines, is that they are one of the only animals in the world that can perform photosynthesis (the others all belong to the sacoglossa or sap-sucking sea slugs). When they eat algae, they suck out the chloroplasts and incorporate them into their own bodies in a process called kleptoplasty. This process, which otherwise can only be performed by single-celled organisms, essentially makes them solar-powered slugs!

This cute little sea sheep is a sea slug that loves to eat algae.

Image credits: Jim Lynn
Image credits: Jim Lynn

It is not possible to be confidently identify animals from photos alone. However from the range of photos now available it seems that this species of Costasiella shows some variation in the colour of the cerata. The head has a broad brownish band from the rhinophores to the mouth, and their is a second brown patch from the rhinophores back towards the pericardium. The lower half of the rhinophores are white and the upper half is black, although it seems there can be a white or translucent tip in some specimens. The cerata are transparent, with the green speckled contents showing through the body wall. There is an opaque white cap to the digestive gland just below the translucent tip. In some animals there can be a red or pickish spots on the dorsal side of the cerata just below the tip. In one photo, opalescent blue patches can also be seen on the ceratal wall.

Source: borepanda.com by Dovas and Seaslugforum.net  

 

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September 15, 2016 |

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