WHY ALL THE COLOURS?

Getaway (South Africa) - - ESCAPE NATURE -

Zo­ol­o­gist Jes­sica Toms did her mas­ter’s de­gree on the nudi­branchs of South Africa and has car­ried out ex­ten­sive re­search along our coast­line. She says the colour­ful and elab­o­rate de­sign of the slugs is all part of their de­fence arse­nal. Some nudi­branchs have evolved to syn­the­sise the sting­ing cells of their prey, sub­vert­ing them to use as their own weapons. Coloura­tion is of­ten used to blend in – or, in the case of some brightly coloured nudis, to stand out as much as pos­si­ble to ward off po­ten­tial preda­tors. Some are able to shed their cer­ata (dor­sal or lat­eral out­growths) when threat­ened, while oth­ers are able to ‘suck’ in their sen­si­tive gill branches when in dan­ger.

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