Philinopsis depicta

Philinopsis depicta (Renier, 1807)

Philinopsis depicta by Luis Sánchez-Tocino

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: Philinopsis  Pease, 1860
Species: Philinopsis depicta (Renier, 1807) [Aglaja]


  • Aglaja depicta Renier, 1807 (original)
  • Aglaja pelsunca Ev. Marcus & Er. Marcus, 1966
  • Bulla carnosa Cuvier, 1810 (synonym)
  • Doridium aplysiaeforme Delle Chiaje, 1825
  • Doridium aplysiforme Delle Chiaje, 1825
  • Doridium carnosum (Cuvier, 1810)
  • Doridium coriaceum Meckel, 1809
  • Eidothea marmorata Risso, 1826
  • Melanochlamys depicta (Renier, 1807)

This species can reach a size of up to 60 mm in length. Although variable in coloration, most specimens are dark brown with numerous tiny rounded white spots or larger and irregular shaped spots, their density changing from an specimen to another. However in some animals the color is almost black or reddish brown with little white scores. The head shield is well developed and occupies the anterior half of the body, its anterior border is decorated by an orange band and can also show two longitudinal stripes of the same color, that can be discontinuous. The mantle ends in two rounded lobes without flagellum. The parapodia are relatively short and left uncovered much of the head shield and mantle. The white spots are also present on the outer face of the parapodia. The trailing edge of the head shield, the posterior parapodia and mantle lobes are fringed with a thin line of blue pigment and a wider band of orange. The foot is dark brown, almost black, and has a faint bluish iridescence giving it a velvety appearance, in the anterior zone it widens a little, forming the two rounded lobes.

P. depicta lives on soft sand bottoms, or sand and mud bottoms where it can burrow itself to search for food. When animals are roaming on the substrate they usually lift the back of the head shield. This species is a voracious predator of invertebrates and even other species of opisthobranchs, which captures by projecting its bucal bulb outwards and swallowing the prey whole. It has been cited that feeds among other cephalaspidean species of Bulla striata and Haminoea sp. and some of the smaller species of Aglaja.


  • Philinopsis. From Latin, means “similar to Philine“, where Philine is another genus of Cephalaspideans.
  • Depicta, derived from Latin word “picta”, for painted. 

It is essentially a Mediterranean species, having been cited in both the eastern and western basin. Outside the Mediterranean it has been observed in the Bahamas and the Canary Islands. In the Iberian Peninsula it is cited in Portugal, the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts of Andalusia and the Eastern coast of Valencia. In Catalonia it is found in the sandy Ebro delta and on trawling grounds in front of Blanes.

Known georeferenced records of the species: Philinopsis depicta
: GROC 2010-2011
: Enric Madrenas
: João Pedro Silva
: Bernard Picton
: Manuel Ballesteros.
: M@re Nostrum
: Altres fonts
: Marine Regions

References for the species: Philinopsis depicta

    Portugal: Calado (unpubl. data). Andalucía (Atl.): Templado et al. (1993b). Andalucía (Med.): Moreno and Templado (1998), Sánchez Tocino, Ocaña and García (2000a), Ocaña et al. (2000). Levante: Marín and Ros (1987, as Aglaja), Martínez et al. (1993). Catalunya: Ros (1975, 1978, citada como Doridium carnosum), Ballesteros (1983), Martínez et al. (1993). Canarias: Ortea and Moro (1998b), Ortea et al. (2001), Moro et al. (2003).

    Sources: Cervera et al., 2004, Ballesteros, 2007 & 2016, McDonald, 2006 and other sources.


    Western Mediterranean:
    Eastern Mediterranean:
    Atlantic Ocean:
This chart displays the observation probability for Philinopsis depicta based on our own records.

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Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes (2012-2018) "Philinopsis depicta" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 14/05/2012, Accessed: 23/01/2018 at (

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