Chromodoris tumulifera
Collingwood, 1881.

Suborder: DORIDINA
Family: Chromodorididae


Tropical Western Pacific.


UPPER: Hinchinbrook Is, North Queensland, October 1983.
LOWER: Juvenile showing mantle glands around inside edge of yellow border. Darwin, Northern Territory, June 1987
PHOTOS: Bill Rudman.

I previously thought that C. tumulifera and C. bimaensis were distinct species, mainly on the grounds that the spots of C. bimaensis are distinctly purple, (red in C. tumulifera ), and are often open in the centre to form irregular rings (Rudman, 1983). However further specimens I have seen from Australia and New Caledonia of red spotted specimens show a range of colour patterns; some specimens having spots outside the submarginal orange border and others not; some specimens with solid red spots and others with a mixture of spots and irregular rings as in `typical' C. bimaensis. The only difference then is the purple versus red coloration. As they show a range from a very light to a very dark red, it would seem better to consider C. tumulifera and C. bimaensis as one species.

In juvenile animals branches of the dendritic mantle glands are clearly visible along the inside edge of the submarginal yellow border. As the animals grow larger the mantle becomes more opaque white and the glands are obscured. A close-up picture of the glands can be seen in an answer on the Defensive Glands page.

Note added 12 Feb, 2002: Gosliner (1994) described C. kitae from northern Madagascar as a new species, mainly because the orange submarginal line was interrupted by both white and red-purple spots, while in C. tumulifera it is only interrupted by purple spots. Another difference is that in C. kitae there are white spots on the gills and rhinophores. I suspect the differences fall within the range of variation of C. tumulifera.

• Gosliner, T.M. (1994) New species of Chromodoris and Noumea (Nudibranchia: Chromodorididae) from the western Indian Ocean and southern Africa. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 48(12): 239-252. (8 figs)
• Rudman, W.B. (1983a) The Chromodorididae (Opisthobranchia: Mollusca) of the Indo-West Pacific: Chromodoris splendida, C. aspersa and Hypselodoris placida colour groups. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 78: 105-173.
• Rudman, W.B. (1991) Purpose in Pattern: the evolution of colour in chromodorid nudibranchs. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 57, (T.E. Thompson Memorial Issue): 5-21.

Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 1999 (May 21) Chromodoris tumulifera Collingwood, 1881.. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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