Photo by Kevin Lee
Even as far back in 1980 when I published Pacific Coast Nudibranchs and Gary McDonald published his Guide to the Nudibranchs of California, we knew that there were up to three variations of what then was referred to as Laila cockerelli (MacFarland, 1905).
Uribe et al.s recent work has looked at two of those variations and determined that the differences in external morphology are supported by differences in genetic proteins. Working from the beginning with Frank Mace MacFarland's 1905 description they determined that the real L. cockerelli were the specimens with scattered white tubercles on the notum between the long marginal papillae.
In this paper they describe the new species shown above and dedicate it to fellow Brancher Gary McDonald. Known affectionately as either Slugo or McDuck, by those of us with his similar passion, Gary has been a real contributor to science of Nudibranchs along the California coast for many years. Limacia McDucki are the specimens with a single line of red tubercles down the center of the notum. Congrats Gary.
Hopefully the third variation, those specimens with large patches of red pigment between the rhinophores and anterior to the gill, will be examined genetically soon. Wouldn't it be cool if we had three Limacia's along this part of the coast?
Uribe, R.A., Sepulveda, F., Goddard, J.H.R. et al. Mar Biodiv (2017). doi:10.1007/s12526-017-0676-5
Colorful new species of sea slug named after Long Marine Lab's Gary McDonald, UC Santa Cruz Magazine, Spring 2007