Dendrodoris carbunculosa
(Kelaart, 1858)

Suborder: DORIDINA
Family: Dendrodorididae


Tropical Indo-West Pacific.


UPPER RIGHT: Plateau Karembé, near Koumac, New Caledonia, 20°38'S, 164°16'. Intertidal, mixed substrate, sand and coral blocks 24 October 1993, 100mm long. PHOTO: Bill Rudman.
LOWER RIGHT: As above.
LOWER LEFT: Broadhurst Reef, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, July 1975, 270mm long. Photo: Ian Loch.

Earlier workers, (Eliot, Alder & Hancock, Bergh) considered that Kelaart's species was probably just a variety of Dendrodoris tuberculosa (Quoy & Gaimard, 1832), differing only in the colour of the underside of the mantle. In Dendrodoris tuberculosa there are characteristic large white oval spots, while in Dendrodoris carbunculosa the underside of the mantle is a uniform brown or reddish brown, sometimes with darker diffuse patches. The colour and shape are clearly seen in Kelaart's unpublished paintings in the Natural History Museum, London. This species differs in having large individual tubercules separated by smooth sections of the mantle. Each large tubercle is surrounded by a ring of small semispherical bumps. In Dendrodoris tuberculosa the tubercules are packed close together and are often compound. It is possible that these two `species' are opposite extremes of a range of variation, but I have neither seen nor read of the existence of any intermediate forms.

Ian Loch reports that the mucous secretions of an animal he collected in Townsville caused painful burning sensations to his lips and eyes - presumably via his hands.

See Kelaart paintings on Page 2.

• Kelaart, E.F. (1858). Description of new and little known species of Ceylon nudibranchiate molluscs and zoophytes. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society,
Columbo, 3(1)
: 84-139.

Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 1998 (December 20) Dendrodoris carbunculosa (Kelaart, 1858). [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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