Heâ€™s big. Heâ€™s slimy. And heâ€™s â€¦ neon pink?! MeetÂ Triboniophorus aff. graeffei,Â a new species of 8-inch-long (20-centimeter-long) slug thatâ€™s found only on one Australian mountain.
Scientists already knew that a bright-pink slug lived on Mount Kaputar (map), thinking it was a variety of the red triangle slug, a species common along the east coast of Australia. But new research shows that the colorful critter is actually its own species,Â said Australiaâ€™s National Parks and Wildlife Service rangerÂ Michael Murphy.
â€œRecent morphological and genetics work by a researcher working on this slug familyâ€”the Athorcophoridaeâ€”has indicated the Kaputar slugs are a unique species endemic toÂ MountÂ KaputarÂ and the only representative of this family in inlandÂ Australia,â€ said Murphy,Â whoâ€™s been stationed on Mount Kaputar for 20 years.
The pink slug had gone unstudied for so long because Australian slug and snail researchersâ€”known as malacologistsâ€”are far outnumbered by their koala-investigating brethren, Murphy said.
Their research on the new slug will likely be submitted for publication soon, he added.
Meanwhile, though, the Australian government has moved to protect this rosy rarity and other unique species by designating their mountain home in New South Wales as anÂ â€endangered ecological area.â€