Discodoris lilacina
(Gould, 1852)

Suborder: DORIDINA
Family: Dorididae


Common in the tropical and subtropical Indian and Pacific Oceans.


Koumac, New Caledonia, Oct 1993, intertidal, 120 mm long alive. Photo: Bill Rudman.

The genus Discodoris contains a very large number of very similar if not identical species. Because the original descriptions were often inadequate and based on one or a few specimens, it is difficult to determine their identity with living material. Until we have a better idea as to whether we are dealing with one widespread variable species or a number of very similar looking species, the taxonomy will remain confused. One of these species, is commonly identified with D. fragilis Alder & Hancock. The earliest name for this species is Doris lilacina Gould. It is possible that D. concinna Alder & Hancock, 1864 and various of Bergh's many species will prove to be synonyms.

This species is characterised by its ability to autotomise large sections of the mantle as described by many authors. There are two white patches in the dorsal midline which are quite characteristic of the species (see Willan & Coleman, 1984: figs 108, 111), but sometimes obscured in heavily pigmented specimens. The name, D. fragilis, which well describes its tendency to autotomise sections of the mantle, is in fact predated by the name Doris lilacina, from the Hawaiian islands. Gould in his original description, likens his specimen to a `trilobite' not realising that the peculiar shape resulted from the almost total autotomy of the mantle skirt, only the anterior portion being retained.

See Page on 'Discodoris lilacina' and 'Discodoris fragilis' from the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean.

  • Gould, A.A. (1852). United States Exploring Expedition during the Years 1838-1842. Mollusca & Shells, 12: 1-510. (with Atlas of Plates, 1856).
Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 1999 (July 21) Discodoris lilacina (Gould, 1852). [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/factsheet/disclila

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