Philinopsis cyanea from Lizard Is

February 3, 2003
From: Nils Anthes

Dear Bill,
Philinopsis cyanea appears to be common on sandy beaches at Lizard Island [north Queensland, Australia] in all possible colour variations. I include 2 pictures [lower photos] that show the colour range.
We also found 2 specimens [upper right photo]at the same places, that basically lack the typical P. cyanea pattern, but are covered with small whitish spots all over. The margins of the parapods have inconspicuous orange and blue lines. They resemble in colouration P. troubridgensis. What is the difference between these two species?

Kind regards,

Anthes, N., 2003 (Feb 3) Philinopsis cyanea from Lizard Is. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Nils,
I'm pretty sure the spotted animal in the top photo is part of the colour variation within P. cyanea. If you look at some of the photos in other messages you will see intermediates between your colour pattern and more 'typical' specimens. I illustrated this wide colour variation in a population I found in Zanzibar [Rudman, 1972]. This spotted colour pattern does look quite like 'typical' P. troubridgensis, but that species also seems to be quite variable in colour. Unfortunately we don't know much about P. troubridgensis because most records are of dead or dying specimens washed up on beaches in South Australia. Its one claim to fame is its size. Growing to at least 70mm long, it is probably the largest . The South Australian fauna has an interesting mixture of southern endemic species and tropical species which appear to be regularly recruited from larvae drifting down the Western Australian coast. I guess it is possible that P. troubridgensis is just a large growth form of P. cyanea but we need to know a lot more about P. troubridgensis. I have only dissected a couple of specimens of this species [Rudman, 1972] and could find no major differences in their anatomy, but unfortunately, interspecific anatomical differences are rare within the genus.

• Rudman, W.B. (1972) A comparative study of the genus Philinopsis Pease, 1860. (Aglajidae, Opisthobranchia). Pacific Science, 26(4): 381-99, 15 figs, 1 plate.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2003 (Feb 3). Comment on Philinopsis cyanea from Lizard Is by Nils Anthes. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


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