Giant pink slugs found in secret world
2013-06-01 0:00

By Ben Cubby | The Age / Environment

High in the mists that shroud Mount Kaputar, near Narrabri in north-western NSW, scientists have discovered a secret world.


By day it is an isolated pocket of snow gums, wrapped in straggling native vines.
People tend to focus on the cute and cuddly bird and mammal species like koalas. But these little invertebrates drive whole ecosystems.

But on rainy nights, it is the domain of giant, fluorescent pink slugs - up to 20 centimetres long - and carnivorous, cannibal land snails that roam the mountaintop in search of their vegetarian victims.

’’It’s just one of those magical places, especially when you are up there on a cool, misty morning,’’ said Michael Murphy, a national parks ranger for 20 years, whose beat covers the mountain top.

’’It’s a tiny island of alpine forest, hundreds of kilometres away from anything else like it. The slugs, for example, are buried in the leaf mould during the day, but sometimes at night they come out in their hundreds and feed off the mould and moss on the trees. They are amazing, unreal-looking creatures.’’

Locals had long reported seeing bizarre pink slugs after rainfall in the area, but it was only very recently that taxonomists confirmed the slugs, Triboniophorus aff. graeffei, as well as several of the snail species - which prey on other vegetarian land snails - were unique to the mountaintop.

They are a relic of the era when much of eastern Australia was damp rainforest, and probably would have long since vanished, if a volcano had not erupted at Mount Kaputar about 17 million years ago.

The result of that eruption is a high-altitude haven for invertebrates and plant species that have been isolated for millions of years, after Australia dried out and the rainforests receded.

Their heritage can be traced back to Gondwana - when Australia’s landmass was connected to others in one vast continent - via relatives that survive in pockets of New Zealand, New Caledonia and South Africa.

But the Mount Kaputar creatures are genetically distinct, restricted to an area of about 10 kilometres by 10 kilometres on their own mountaintop.

[...]

Read the full article at: theage.com.au








Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

Pressure from the United Patriots Front Stops Mosque Plan
2016-04-28 20:10
Pressure from the United Patriots Front appears to have killed off a mosque development in Narre Warren North. The City of Casey council now looks likely to withhold planning approval for the development in a special meeting set for Tuesday night. A council report, to be considered by councillors on Tuesday, recommends that the approval be blocked. The mosque opponents’ cause has been helped by councillor ...
Police face questions over the influence of the Freemasons
2016-04-28 20:48
South Yorkshire Police today face questions over whether powerful 'secret society' the Freemasons held sway over the force at the time of Hillsborough. Families of victims say that officers who were Masons were promoted into powerful positions despite being ill-equipped, including match commander David Duckenfield. Duckenfield told the fresh inquests he had been a Freemason since 1975 and became head of his ...
England Bans its Own Flag to Avoid Offending Muslims
2016-04-27 2:23
St. George's Cross "racist" towards immigrants Government officials said their city was ‘too multicultural’ to celebrate St George’s Day, England’s version of the 4th of July. The council said that displaying the English flag may have been seen as “racist” towards immigrants.
Half of Western European men descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’
2016-04-27 2:09
Half of Western European men are descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ who sired a dynasty of elite nobles which spread throughout Europe, a new study has shown. The monarch, who lived around 4,000 years ago, is likely to have been one of the earliest chieftains to take power in the continent. He was part of a new order which emerged in ...
"Local Residents" Are Filmed Stealing Dozens of Bottles of Water at London Marathon Stop
2016-04-25 23:10
Editor's Comment: "Local" residents? Why bother blurring their faces? We know who they are. ... London marathon runners were robbed of dozens of bottled waters when thieves raided a refreshment area armed with trolleys during today's race. Nearby residents - including parents with children - were captured on camera piling up crates of free water handed out by volunteers during the 26-mile event. Marathon ...
More News »