Sea slug mating features a stab in the head | Science News



Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


Sea slug mating features a stab in the head

Sea slug mating features a stab in the head

Newly discovered hermaphroditic sea slug deploys specialized needle-thin organ for injections near the eyes

7:05pm, November 12, 2013

HEAD SHOT  Two tiny hermaphroditic sea slugs position for mutual simultaneous sperm transfer, but add a second connection, head to head.

A newly discovered sea slug adds that special something to mating: simultaneous forehead piercing.

Found on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the new species of hermaphroditic sea slug­­ — bright yellow, red and white and just a few millimeters long — has the double set of penile organs typical of Siphopteron slugs. Yet the new slugs deploy them in a novel way, says marine behavioral ecologist Rolanda Lange of Monash University in Clayton, Australia.

When the as-yet-unnamed slugs mate, one organ delivers the sperm to the female opening on another slug’s body. Seconds after partners position their structures for simultaneous sperm transfer, the slugs each insert a second organ, a needlelike stylet. Each slug plunges it like a syringe into the area around the other’s eyes, Lange and her colleagues report November 12 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The slugs about to be injected don’t dodge out of

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from this issue of Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content