Aglaja depicta or Philinopsis depicta

April 14, 2003
From: Bill Rudman

In Anne Du Pont's message I discuss the generic placement of Aglaja depicta and refer to an earlier message where I explain why I continue to place this species in Aglaja. To summarise this discussion, In earlier reviews of the family Aglajidae (Rudman, 1972, 1974) I defined the anatomical characters needed to separate the various genera in the family. Terry Gosliner (1980) added to this work, and suggested some modifications most of which I agree with. One point I have had difficulty in accepting is the move of Aglaja depicta to the genus Philinopsis. Many internal and external features of the two genera are very similar but one very unique feature of species of Aglaja is the exogenous sperm sac opening into the spermoviduct rather than into the genital vestibule. In published anatomical work Aglaja depicta has this character, and in the absence of any other convincing evidence I feel it should remain in that genus, until its anatomy has been re-examined. I have just discovered an anatomical description of the reproductive system of this species (Martinez et al, 1993) in which the illustration clearly shows the a Philinopsis - like arrangement of the exogenous sperm sac. It also shows a penial anatomy very similar to that of Philinopsis cyanaea.

As I said in Anne's message, this is the information I needed, so I have no hesitation now in moving the species to Philinopsis. It certainly raises the question about whether P. cyanea is just an Indo-West Pacific form of P. depicta.

• Gosliner, T.M. (1980) Systematics and phylogeny of the Aglajidae (Opisthobranchia: Mollusca). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 68(4): 325-360.
• Martinez, E., Ballesteros, M., Avila, C., Dantart, L. & Cimino, G. (1993) The family Aglajidae (Opisthobranchia: Cephalaspidea) in the Iberian Peninsula. Iberus, 11(1): 15-29.
• 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.
• Rudman,W.B. (1974) A comparison of Chelidonura, Navanax and Aglaja with other genera of the Aglajidae (Opisthobranchia, Gastropoda). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 54(3): 185-212.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2003 (Apr 14) Aglaja depicta or Philinopsis depicta. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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