Ceratophyllidia spp.

Suborder: DORIDINA
Family: Phyllidiidae


Species of Ceratophyllidia are found throughout the tropical Indo-West Pacific.


UPPER: Brunckhorst's Ceratophyllidia sp. 2 - Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Ids., 15m, June 1983. Photo: Scott Johnson (from Brunckhorst, 1993: Plate 9F).
LOWER: C. africana - Park Rynie, south coast KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, 30 m, November 2001, Length: 40 mm. Photo: Valda Fraser.

This remarkable genus of phyllidiids has large spherical dorsal tubercles scattered over its otherwise smooth dorsum. Brunckhorst, 1993 considers that the only named species, C. africana, is restricted to the western Indian Ocean and suggests Western Pacific species can be separated into two further species. His main distinguishing features (Brunckhorst, 1993) are the presence or absence of dark markings on the dorsum and whether the spherical tubercles are a uniform dark colour (grey or brownish - in Pacific species), or with black spots (in C. africana). I have seen specimens of both colour forms from New Caledonia so it is possible that Ceratophyllidia africana is a widely distributed species with a variable colour pattern. The spherical tubercles on the back of Ceratophyllidia are attached by a short narrow "stalk". When disturbed the animal is able to break off the tubercles so often animals can be found with a mixture of large and small (growing) tubercles which are replacing ones which have been broken off. Specimens in collections often have only a few or no tubercles.

I am putting all animals that appear to be Ceratophyllidia together on one page until we have a better way of distinguishing species.
Compare Ceratophyllidia with Phyllidiopsis cardinalis.

Brunckhorst, D.J. (1993) The systematics and phylogeny of Phyllidiid Nudibranchs (Doridoidea). Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement 16: 1-107.

Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 1998 (July 23) Ceratophyllidia spp. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/factsheet/ceratop1

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