Opisthobranch of the Week Data
Ceratosoma moloch is considered to be very rare on Okinawa; the above featured animal is the only one I've seen, but Yokoi Kensuke has photographed two very similar appearing individuals during separate years. Also, Rie Nakano has recently (March, 2001) photographed a 110mm animal (per. comm.) in the Kerama Islands as well.
C. moloch, is a large dorid nudibranch, attaining a 140 mm size. This unusual animal is distinguished by the presence of large compound pustules over the body and foot. Several of the large pustules form an enclosure around the gills, which are retractable into the gill sheath. Marshall & Willan (1999) have a photograph of the 140mm holotype * specimen of C. moloch (species figure 158) which appears to be very similar to the Okinawa material.
In the August, 2000 issue of Wayne Ellis' Australasian Nudibranch News, Richard Willan's piece on Ceratosoma moloch addresses the unusual lack of a conventional stem ending of the Latin name (lacking the usual "-ae", "-I", "-orum" or "-ensis" ending). The name, which is a noun (actually a noun in apposition), was given by Bill Rudman (1988) and is derived from the scientific name of an unattractive reptile, the Australian Thorny Devil (Moloch horidus), an agamid lizard commonly found in the arid regions of Australia. Incidentally, if you'd like to see what the reptile looks like, John Fowler (2001) of South Australia has several images of M. horidus on his Reptiles of Australia site.
As of this writing (April, 2001) C. moloch is one of
seven species of Ceratosoma known from Okinawan waters. The seven species identified to date are: