Mediterranean, Atlantic coast of Europe, Indo-West Pacific.
Upper: Fischer's original drawing [1872 - Plate 15, figs 1-3]
Lower: Kerama Islands, Okinawa, Japan. Size approx: 17mm., Depth: 2m., 7 Jul 2002. Photo: Jun Imamoto
The identity of many of the small sea hares of the genera Phyllaplysia and Petalifera, which have been described around the world, is very confused and as many species are based on descriptions of preserved animals, or simply described as 'green', we will probably never be able to resolve all the older names. The situation is also confused by many authors considering that species of Phyllaplysia lacked a shell while those of Petalifera possessed one.
Phyllaplysia lafonti was originally described from the Baie d'Arcachon on the Atlantic coast of France. Like all species of Phyllaplysia and Petalifera it is described as small, flattened, and with very reduced parapodia. The colour is described as very variable, but one distinctive feature of the written description and the accompanying drawing are the way the body coloration consists of concentric bands ['zones concentriques'] of lighter and darker pigmentation. Also described are whitish spots ringed with purple. Fischer was unable to determine whether there was a shell, but a relatively large fragile internal shell is illustrated by Terreni (1997)
It is hard to be sure which of the earlier references to this species in the Mediterranean are actually correct, but there is a good colour photo which matches the original drawing of Phyllaplysia lafonti in an article by Terreni (1997) in La Conchiglia. In this article he compares it with Petalifera petalifera. Photos of animals from the Indo-West Pacific, indistinguishable from Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic animals, suggest this species has a circum-global distribution.
Fischer, P (1870) Observations sur les Aplysies. Ann. de Sci. Nat (5). Zool & Pal, 13: 3
Fischer, P (1872) Description d'une espece nouvelle du genre Phyllaplysia. Journal de Conchyliologie, 20: 295-301.
Terreni, G. (1997) Rinvenimento di un esemplare di Phyllaplysia lafonti (P. Fischer, 1870) nelle acque litorali di Livorno (Gastropoda, Opisthobranchia, Aplysiomorpha). La Conchiglia, Roma, 29 (282): 45-47.
Rudman, W.B., 2005 (May 12) Phyllaplysia lafonti (Fischer, 1870). [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/factsheet/phyllafo
Phyllaplysia lafonti & Petalifera petalifera
From: Bill Rudman, May 12, 2005
Petalifera petalifera from Moorea
From: Bill Rudman, December 17, 2003
Petalifera petalifera (Rang, 1828)? from Japan
From: Jun Imamoto, April 30, 2003
Aplysiid from French Polynesia
From: Daniel Geiger, March 13, 2002