Dorsal gills on Phyllidiella ?

October 14, 2009
From: Kamal El Tawil

Dear Bill,

I was organizing some pictures a friend took while we were on a dive trip last July. One picture of what I first identified as either Phyllidiella annulata (pink rings) or Phyllidiella pustulosa looked a bit odd.

The animal has dorsal gills. Normally it would have its gills under its mantle. I checked the similar species on this Forum as well as other references but I couldn't find anything similar. I don't know if my identification is correct so is this a different species or do we here see an abnormality?

Locality: St. John's reef, Egypt, Red Sea, 07 July 2009, Offshore reef. Length: 20-25 mm. Photographer: Peter Geervliet.

Kindest regards,
Kamal El Tawil

El Tawil, K., 2009 (Oct 14) Dorsal gills on Phyllidiella ?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Kamal,

Thes are very nice photos of a dorid which looks very like some species of Phyllidiella and Phyllidopsis, but as you have noticed, its dorsal gills suggest there is something wrong. In the western Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean there is a species which is now called Paradoris liturata. Specimens like yours, from the western Indian Ocean, look slightly different so I am calling them Paradoris cf. liturata, but they could well be the same species. They are quite unrelated to the phyllidiids but we do not know if their external similarity to that family is a coincidence or an amazing example of mimicry.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2009 (Oct 14). Comment on Dorsal gills on Phyllidiella ? by Kamal El Tawil. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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