Giant air-breathing land slug – “Triboniophorus aff. graeffei”

3 years ago by in Systematics and Taxonomy, Systematics and Taxonomy

Triboniophorus aff. graeffei is a species of giant air-breathing land slugs with a distinctive hot pink hue. These slugs are found on Mount Kaputar inAustralia. Taxonomists have confirmed that these slugs are not conspecific with the better-known “red triangle slug”, Triboniophorus graeffei.

Distribution and habitat

The slugs have only been found atop Mount Kaputar, an inland mountain near Narrabri in northern New South Wales within Mount Kaputar National Park, at an altitude around 1,500 meters (4,921 ft 3 in) surrounded by snow gum trees. They have been observed to stay within this area,which is estimated to be 100 square kilometers. Most of the top of the mountain is designated wilderness. Although the mountain is surrounded by dry plains, it receives rainfall and snow, and its temperature is 10 degrees cooler than the plains.[1] Thus it forms an isolated ecozone, or sky island; such sky islands are known for unique indigenous fauna and flora.

Life

The slugs can be seen by the hundreds on cool, wet, misty mornings. During the day, they hide in the plant litter at the base of the trees. At night, they come out and climb the tree to eatalgae and mosses growing on the tree trunk. The slugs climb down the tree trunk in the early morning to hide and repeat the cycle.

In the ecosystem, the slugs break down the plant litter into nutrient-rich soil to promote plant growth. They also serve as food for birds and other animals.

Description

The slugs are fluorescent pink in color and about 20 centimeters in length. In an Australian Broadcasting Corporation interview, New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger Michael Murphy described the color: “as bright pink as you can imagine, that’s how pink they are”.

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