|Costasiella cf. kuroshimae on Avrainvillea erecta. Locality: Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. The length of the slug is about 1 cm.|
Costasiella kuroshimae, also known as a "leaf slug", "leaf sheep", or "salty ocean caterpillar" is a species of sacoglossan sea slug. Costasiella kuroshimae are shell-less marine opisthobranch gastropod mollusks in the family Costasiellidae. They range in size from 5 millimetres (0.20 in) to 1 centimetre (0.39 in) in length.
Discovered in 1993 off the coast of the Japanese island Kuroshima, leaf slugs have been found in the waters near Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia. They have two dark eyes and two rhinophores that emerge from the tops of their heads that look not unlike sheep's ears or insect antennae, hence the common name "leaf sheep." The rhinophores have fine hairs that sense chemicals in the water, enabling Costasiella kuroshimae and other sea slugs to find food sources.
Costasiella kuroshimae are capable of a chemical process called kleptoplasty, in which they retain the chloroplasts from the algae they feed on. Absorbing the chloroplasts from algae then enables them to indirectly perform photosynthesis.
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