Meaning of Hypselodoris

June 10, 2003
From: Malo Hosken

Hello Dr Rudman
I am currently doing an assignment on the nudibranch Hypselodoris obscura, found in south Queensland [Australia]. I wanted to know the meaning of the genus Hypselodoris. What does it stand for ?
I hope you can help me out,
Thank you,
Malo Hosken

Hosken, M. , 2003 (Jun 10) Meaning of Hypselodoris. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Malo,
Many journal editors now insist that authors of new names provide a 'meaning' or 'etymology' for new names. In earlier times this was not often done. I'm afraid that in the case of Hypselodoris the whole description was particularly shabby.

Stimpson (1855) has a one paragraph description of Goniodoris? obscura from Port Jackson [Sydney Harbour], followed by the following 3 sentence discussion:
"This species, with another closely allied and occurring in the same locality form a genus probably new. It differs from Goniodorus (sic), in having retractile tentacula, and in the greater development of the mantle; and from Doris by the elevated, oblong quadrangular shape of the body. I would propose for it the name of Hypselodoris."

So basically the author didn't give any indication on the origin of the name. Stimpson does mention that it differs from the genus Doris by the elevated shape of the body so it is possible that Hypselodoris is based on hypsos - the Greek word for height - as in 'high doris' but that is only a guess.

Doris was a Greek sea goddess. The genus Doris was an early Linnaean genus into which many 'dorid' nudibranchs were initially placed.
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2003 (Jun 10). Comment on Meaning of Hypselodoris by Malo Hosken . [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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