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Costasiella kuroshimae

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Costasiella kuroshimae
Costasiella cf. kuroshimae on Avrainvillea erecta. Locality: Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. The length of the slug is about 1 cm (38 in).
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Subclass: Heterobranchia
Family: Costasiellidae
Genus: Costasiella
C. kuroshimae
Binomial name
Costasiella kuroshimae
Ichikawa, 1993

Costasiella kuroshimae—also known as a "leaf slug",[1] or "leaf sheep"[2]—is a species of sacoglossan sea slug. Costasiella kuroshimae are shell-less marine opisthobranch gastropod mollusks in the family Costasiellidae.[3] Despite being animals they indirectly perform photosynthesis, via kleptoplasty.[4]


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.[5] 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". They range in size from 5 to 10 mm (14 to 38 inch) in length.

Costasiella kuroshimae are capable of a physiological 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. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 2020-07-17.
  2. ^ Schelling A (21 July 2015). "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. ^ Christa, Gregor; B. Gould, Sven; Franken, Johanna; Vleugels, Manja; Karmeinski, Dario; Handeler, Katharina; F. Martin, William; Wagele, Heike (23 May 2014). "Functional kleptoplasty in a limapontioidean genus: phylogeny, food preferences and photosynthesis in Costasiella, with a focus on C. ocellifera (Gastropoda: Sacoglossa)". Journal of Molluscan Studies. 80 (5): 499–507. doi:10.1093/mollus/eyu026.
  5. ^ Palomares ML, Pauly D, eds. (2023). "Costasiella kuroshimae" in SeaLifeBase. March 2023 version.
  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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