Chelidonura africana

Chelidonura africana Pruvot-Fol, 1953

Chelidonura africana by Enric Madrenas
Class: Gastropoda  Cuvier, 1797 
Subclass: Heterobranchia  J.E. Gray, 1840 
Clade: Euthyneura  Spengel, 1881 
Clade: Euopisthobranchia  Jörger et al., 2010 
Clade: Cephalaspidea  P. Fischer, 1883 
Superfamily: Philinoidea  J.E. Gray, 1850 
Family: Aglajidae  Pilsbry, 1895 (1847) 
Genus: Chelidonura  A. Adams, 1850 
Species: Chelidonura africana  Pruvot-Fol, 1953


  • Chelidonura italica Sordi, 1980

This species of cephalaspidean can reach about 25 mm in length (Gofas et al., 2001), although most field observations reach only 10-15 mm. As in other family members, the body has a head shield in the anterior side, a mantle, the lateral parapodia partially covering the two previous areas and the foot. The background color of the body is homogeneous dark brown covered with very thin white spots that tend to accumulate on the back end of the head shield forming a wide white band. There could be accumulations of white spots on the mantle zone. Some specimens may have so many white spots that seem to be albino. The head shield occupies more than half the total length of the body and its front edge difference 4 bundles of sensory setae. The eyes are located in the anterior dorsum of the head shield. The back of the mantle has two caudal lobes, the one on the left being longer and ending in a sharp tip, trait referred in the genus name. The parapodia are well developed, they are of the same color as the body and its upper edge is colored orange or yellow. There are rounded turquoise spots on the side walls of the parapodia, that can also be seen in the posterior lobes of the mantle and in the tail. The above areas of the head shield are usually depigmented and semi-transparent.

Ch.africana lives in shallow rocky substrates rich with algae and invertebrates, among which it is easily overlooked. It has also been cited in Posidonia oceanica meadows (Marin, 1988). Like other species of the family, it is a voracious predator that it has been found feeding on small marine flatworms. This species has often been cited under the name of Ch.italica Sordi, 1980, which is now considered synonymous with Ch.africana.


  • Chelidonura. From Latinchelidon”, swallow + from Greek “oura”, tail. Refers to the long left caudal lobe.
  • Africana. Related to Africa, where the first specimens were presumably collected.

This species has been cited in the western Mediterranean, the Atlantic coast of North Africa, in the Açores, Canary islands and Madeira. In the Iberian Peninsula it has been observed off the coast of Portugal, the Strait of Gibraltar, on the Mediterranean coast of Andalusia, in the Levant region and in Catalonia, where it has been cited in Cadaques, L’Escala and Cala Margarida (Palamós).

Known georeferenced records of the species: Chelidonura africana (z-200).
: GROC 2010-2011 : VIMAR
: Enric Madrenas : Manuel Ballesteros.
: João Pedro Silva : M@re Nostrum
: Bernard Picton : Other sources
: GBIF.ORG : Marine Regions

References for the species: Chelidonura africana

    Portugal: Gavaia et al. (2004). Gibraltar: García-Gómez and García (1984b). Andalucía (Med.): Ballesteros et al. (1986, as C. italica). Levante: Templado, Talavera and Murillo (1983), Templado et al. (2002), Marín and Ros (1987), Martínez et al. (1993, as C. italica), García Raso et al. (1992, as C. italica). Catalunya: Martínez et al. (1993, citada como Ch. italica). Canarias: Ortea, Moro and Espinosa (1996), Ortea et al. (2001), Martínez, Malaquias and Cervera (2002), Moro et al. (2003). Madeira: Malaquias et al. (2001), Malaquias, Martínez and Abreu (2002), Martínez, Malaquias and Cervera (2002).

    Sources: Cervera et al., 2004, Ballesteros, 2007, McDonald, 2006 and other sources.


        Western Mediterranean:0 Stars
        Eastern Mediterranean:0.0 Stars
        Atlantic Ocean:0.0 Stars
This chart displays the observation probability for Chelidonura africana
based on our own records.

More pictures


Bibliography based on the works by Steve Long, 2006. Bibliography of Opisthobranchia 1554-2000 and Gary McDonald, 2009. Bibliographia Nudibranchia, with later updates from other resources.

Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes et al. (2012-2017) "Chelidonura africana" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 14/05/2012, Accessed: 23/10/2017 at (

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