'Teeth' in the gut of Bursatella

March 10, 2000
From: Jack Rudloe

Dear Dr. Rudman:
Do you have any information on the "teeth" in the crop of Bursatella and Aplysia? There's an orange crop, or stomach that has a dozen or so triangular teeth-like structures that appear to be made out of some unusual transluscent yellow or green material that I find intriguing. This year in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, we've got swarms of Bursatella washing up on the beaches, and I was wondering if anyone ever looked at the "teeth" for some unique bio-material. Any information will be appreciated, and thanks for having your slug website. See ours at www.Gulfspecimen.org
Jack Rudloe,


Rudloe, J., 2000 (Mar 10) 'Teeth' in the gut of Bursatella. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/2068

Dear Jack,
The gut of the sea hares follows a very similar design throughout the Order. I have used a very old drawing of Cuvier's (1803) of the opened gizzard region to illustrate the arrangement [mainly because most people don't get a chance to see these old figures]. The inset is a sketch of mine to show the whole gut. In Cuvier's drawing many of the hooks in the filter chamber (C) are missing. They should form a dense band right around the chamber.

There is a muscular buccal bulb (bb), opening at the mouth, and it contains the broad rasping radular ribbon used to break off pieces of the algae it feeds. A pair of long salivary glands (sg) open into it. the oesophagus is a large extensible sac or crop (cr) in which pieces of algal food are stored before being crushed in the gizzard, which is broken into 3 regions (ABC). The first (A) is unarmed and presumably is just an anterior holding sac for partially digested food forced down from the crop. The second part of the gizzard (B) has a basal layer of circular muscle encircling the gizzard, and is lined with large chitinous pyramidal crushing plates which reduce the algal plates to fine pieces and a slurry of algal 'juice'. The third region (C) is lined with find recurved chitinous hooks which filter the crushed slurry of food, preventing large particles from moving further down the gut.

The stomach (st) is a very small chamber into which the ducts (D) of the digestive gland open. Also opening into the stomach are the caecum (F) and the intestine (E). Then stomach and caecum are lined with ciliated ridges and there is obviously a very complicated sorting process going on in the stomach, separating edible and inedible particles from the gizzard, and faecal and excretory products from the digestive gland. The caecum seems to be where the faecal pellets are formed.

This is probably more than you wanted to know. Suffice to say that the gizzard plates are of two sorts. A band of large crushing plates and then a region of relatively fine hooks packed close together to form a filter chamber.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman.

Rudman, W.B., 2000 (Mar 10). Comment on 'Teeth' in the gut of Bursatella by Jack Rudloe. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/2068

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