Elysia leucolegnote - anatomy

July 3, 2003
From: Bill Rudman

The photos in Ken Ching's message about Elysia leucolegnote from Hong Kong show some features of the external anatomy of an elysiid so well that I thought I would post a separate message showing some of these. Firstly many species of Elysia are part of a fascinating group of sea slugs which I have called Solar Powered. Many species of Elysia keep the photosynthetic chloroplasts from the plants they feed on, alive and functional in their own bodies, which in many ways have modified to resemble leaves. I am not sure if this species keeps the chloroplasts alive and functional in its body, but the fine green specks visible in the upper photo, suggests it does at least store them for a while. The whole of the wide, flattened leaf-like parapodia are filled with branching ducts of the digestive system, in which the chloroplasts are stored. The pericardium is a large blood-filled sac in which the heart is situated. Leading from the pericardium are a series of branching blood vessels, which are called veins or dorsal vessels by different authors. The parapodia need to be well-supplied with fresh blood because this area is now the main area of metabolic activity in the slug and so it needs a constant supply of oxygen and a means to remove waste products, and to carry the products of photosynthesis [sugars etc] to other parts of the body.
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2003 (Jul 3) Elysia leucolegnote - anatomy. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/10169

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