Costasiella kuroshimae

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Costasiella kuroshimae
Costasiella cf kuroshimae.png
Costasiella cf. kuroshimae on Avrainvillea erecta. Locality: Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. The length of the slug is about 1 cm.
Scientific classification
clade Heterobranchia

informal group Opisthobranchia
clade Sacoglossa

clade Plakobranchacea
C. kuroshimae
Binomial name
Costasiella kuroshimae
Ichikawa, 1993

Costasiella kuroshimae—also known as a "leaf slug",[1] "leaf sheep",[2] or "salty ocean caterpillar"—is a species of sacoglossan sea slug. Costasiella kuroshimae are shell-less marine opisthobranch gastropod mollusks in the family Costasiellidae.[3] 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, Costasiella kuroshimae have been found in the waters near Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia. They live in tropical climates.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6]

The type locality is Kuroshima, Taketomi, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands.[7]


  1. ^ "These Cute Sea Slugs Are The Sheep Of The Sea". IFLScience. Retrieved 2020-07-17.
  2. ^ Schelling A. "Sheep Of The Sea Are Cutest Slugs We've Ever Seen". The Dodo. Retrieved 2020-07-17.
  3. ^ Bouchet P (2014). "Costasiella kuroshimae Ichikawa 1993". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  4. ^ Palomares ML, Pauly D, eds. (2023). "Costasiella kuroshimae" in SeaLifeBase. March 2023 version.
  5. ^ Stanton, Kristen M. (October 26, 2020). "Leaf Sheep Facts: The Ocean's Most Adorable Sea Slugs". UniGuide. Archived from the original on 2020-11-01.
  6. ^ Händeler K, Grzymbowski YP, Krug PJ, Wägele H (December 2009). "Functional chloroplasts in metazoan cells - a unique evolutionary strategy in animal life". Frontiers in Zoology. 6 (1): 28. doi:10.1186/1742-9994-6-28. PMC 2790442. PMID 19951407.
  7. ^ Jensen KR (2007). "Biogeography of the Sacoglossa (Mollusca, Opisthobranchia)" (PDF). Bonner Zoologische Beiträge. 55 (3/4): 255–81. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-05.

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