Elephant Slug, Shield Slug, Ducksbill Limpet (Scutus sp.)

Family: Fissurellidae


Scutus antipodes, grows to over 12cm in length. The lower photo shows part of the white shell which is usually completely hidden by flaps of skin. Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Photo: Heather McLennan

Scutus is not a slug but a marine snail with a white shield-like shell on its back. The shell is usually covered by flaps of the mantle, but they sometimes withdraw slightly to expose part of the shell as in the lower photo. It belongs to the family Fissurellidae which includes the Slit-Limpets and Keyhole Limpets so named because their limpet-shaped shells have either a slit or apical 'keyhole' to allow the discharge of exhalant water from the mantle cavity. Scutus has just a notched shell. The Australian species, Scutus antipodes, grows to over 12cm in length.

I am not sure why it is called an Elephant Slug by some popular authors, perhaps because like most fissurellids it has a quite prominent snout. The other two common names refer to the shell. Like all marine snails, the eyes sit raised from the skin on the swollen base of each head tentacle.

Many fissurellids are sponge feeders, but the general consensus is that Scutus is an algal grazer.

Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 2000 (August 15) Elephant Slug, Shield Slug, Ducksbill Limpet (Scutus sp.). [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/factsheet/scutus

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