Asteronotus cespitosus
(van Hasselt, 1824)

Suborder: DORIDINA
Family: Dorididae


Tropical Indo-West Pacific.


UPPER: Photo of Van Hasselt's original painting, 1824, ex Leiden Museum.
LOWER: Viti Levu Bay, Fiji, 105mm long October 1982. Photo: B. Carlson.

Usually coloured with the distnctive colour pattern in the illustrations alongside, but sometimes it is a uniform yellow-brown without the colour pattern. It can grow very large, at least to 25 cm long.

For some reason early naturalists found this animal rather repulsive, giving it a number of names likening it to unattractive body organs (the liver and brain) or descriptive terms denoting its unattractiveness. Kelaart (1858), when describing it from Ceylon as Doris exanthemata stated:
"The whole animal gives one more the idea of a horrid disease than the charms of sea nymph".
Other synonyms are Doris cerebralis Gould, 1852; Doris foetida Pease, 1860 and Doris hepatica Abraham, 1877.

• Hasselt, J.C.v. (1824). In: Andre FĂ©russac. Extrait d'une lettre du Dr. J.C. van Hasselt au Prof. van Swinderen sur mollusques de Java (traduit de l'Allgem. konst en letterbode, 1824, nos. 2,3,4) Tjuringe (ile Java) le 25 Mai 1823 (1). Bulletin des Sciences Naturelle et de Geologie, 3: 237-248.

Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 2001 (April 29) Asteronotus cespitosus (van Hasselt, 1824). [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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