National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger Michael Murphy discovered a giant, fluorescent pink slugs on Mount Kaputar in New South Wales, Australia.
The bright pink slug in only unique to a ten square kilometer patch of the mountaintop.
“Giant pink slugs are about 20 cm long (7.8 inches), only found on top of Mount Kaputar,” says Murphy in an interview with Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “On a good morning, you can walk around and see hundreds of them, but only in that one area.”
While locals have been reporting about seeing these slugs for years, it wasn’t until 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 Mount Kaputar.
“We’ve actually got three species of cannibal snail on Mount Kaputar, and they’re voracious little fellas,” says Murphy. “They hunt around on the forest floor to pick up the slime trail of another snail, then hunt it down and gobble it up.”
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.
Their heritage can be traced back to Gondwana – when Australia’s landmass was connected as one continent – via relatives that survive in pockets of New Zealand, New Caledonia and South Africa, Murphy told ABC.
“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,” Murphy tells the Sydney Morning Herald.
This area is so sensitive that the NSW Scientific Committee has been considering, with evidence of the area’s uniqueness, to list the site as an “endangered ecological community.” Which will grant it one of the highest level of protections from intrusion and development.
“These species have evolved from lowland ancestors and have been isolated in an otherwise snail-hostile environment as conditions began to dry,” the committee’s report said. As a result, they are “acutely susceptible to human-induced climate change. Temperatures a degree or two higher would dry out their mountaintop.”
Australia Is Home to Giant Pink Slugs
The massive, bright pink mollusks were recently identified. A ranger with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, named Michael Murphy stated “Giant pink slugs are about 20 centimeters long, only found on top of Mount Kaputar. On a good morning, you can walk around and see hundreds of them, but only in that one area. As bright pink as you can imagine, that’s how pink they are.”
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