June 3rd, 2013 by James Ayre
Giant fluorescent pink slugs were recently discovered living in the upper reaches of Mount Kaputar, in New South Wales, Australia. The strange species has only been found on that single peak — apparently no longer existing anywhere else in the world, a relic of the rainforest environment that once covered much of Australia. The mountain is actually home to a great many species found nowhere else in the world — in a way almost offering itself as a time-capsule into the past.
A National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger — Michael Murphy — recently came across the animals, and has provided us with these great photographs. “Giant pink slugs are about 20 cm long (7.8 inches), only found on top of Mount Kaputar,” Murphy stated in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “On a good morning, you can walk around and see hundreds of them, but only in that one area.”
With regards to how they look in person, they are “as bright pink as you can imagine, that’s how pink they are,” as he put it. Also noting, that when night falls the majority of them climb into the trees to feed on mosses and mold.
The mountaintop is apparently also home to three unique species of cannibal snails. “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.”
Scientists believe that the distinct biodiversity of this particular region are living relics from a bygone era, when Australia was lush with rainforests, connected to a greater landmass called Gondwana. As volcanic activity and other geological changes over millions of years transformed the landscape into one more arid, Mount Kaputar and its inhabitants were spared.
“It’s just one of those magical places, especially when you are up there on a cool, misty morning,” Murphy noted.
Something that could no doubt be said about many of the natural environments that once covered the globe, and are now gone. Over just the last 10,000 or so years the vast majority of the world’s old-growth forests have been lost — and with this deforestation the great majority of the animal and plant species that once lived in them are now extinct. Some of which were no doubt as strange and interesting as this slug, if not more so…
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