Doriopsilla rarispinosa

Doriopsilla rarispinosa Pruvot-Fol, 1951

Doriopsilla rarispinosa @ Costa Brava by Enric Madrenas













































Doriopsilla rarispinosa  Pruvot-Fol, 1951

 Classification according to Bouchet et al. (2017)
Taxonomic source: World Register of Marine Species (AphiaID: 537051).
Taxonomic note
The results of the study by Furfaro et al (2022) revealed that Doriopsilla areolata, as previously conceived, is a complex of cryptic species that includes at least two different species, D. areolata and D. rarispinosa, endemic to the Mediterranean Sea. D. rarispinosa was previously considered a synonym of D. areolata but this work reinstated it as a valid species based on molecular analysis.

This species can reach 25 mm in length. Body flattened, resembling a sea sponge. Its general coloring is variable, it can go from yellow-gold background to almost white, with darker tones that correspond to the internal organs of the body, visible due to a certain transparency of the tissues. The back is decorated by several opaque white circular spots surrounding the dorsal flattened tubercles, and two or more of these spots could join to form a bigger single one. The ventral mantle is very spiculous, with wide margins. The rinophores are about 3 mm long, with a large mucron, coloured of a slightly paler shade than the color of the body, and with a semi-transparent laminar base. The gill consists of 5 tripinnate or quadripinnate leaves about 10 mm long, and colored pale brown or yellowish. The foot is narrow and spiculous, with spicules arranged transversely. The mouth lacks the labial palps as with all Dendrodorididae.

D. rarispinosa is often found on the tidal zone, under stones with sponges and brotrillids, despite food source is unknown for this species. The spawn is transparent and is composed of a pyramidal section ribbon attached to the substrate forming a spire with a single wide whorl. Eggs have a size of 12 microns and are enclosed in a 35 microns ovigerous capsule.


  • Doriopsilla, genus described by Rudolf Bergh in 1880 in his paper “Die Doriopsen des Mittelmeeres”. Doriopsilla derives from Doris, a sea nymph in the Greek mythology + “-opsis”, “similar to” o “shaped like” + “-illa”, a diminutive. The final meaning would be “shaped like a small Doris”.
  • Rarispinosa comes from the Latin “rarus”, and “spina”, because it has rare black spines in the vas deferens.

This species, described in Banyuls-sur-mer, has so far been limited to the western Mediterranean (Furfaro et al., 2022) where it seems to be endemic, since it has not been found in neighboring marine areas.

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


    Western Mediterranean: ★☆☆☆☆
    Eastern Mediterranean: ☆☆☆☆☆
    Atlantic Ocean: ☆☆☆☆☆

This chart displays the monthly observation probability for Doriopsilla rarispinosa based on our own records.



More pictures


    Avila, C., M. Ballesteros, and J. Ortea. 1992. Una nueva especie de Doriopsilla Bergh, 1880 (Mollusca: Nudibranchia) del archipiélago de Cabo Verde. Historia Animalium (Barcelona) 1: 23-31.
    Bedulli, D., R. Cattaneo-Vietti, R. Chemello, F. Ghisotti, and F. Giovine. 1995. Gastropoda Opisthobranchia, Divasibranchia, Gymnomorpha, Fascicolo 15, pp. 1-23.  In: A. Minelli, A. Ruffo, & S. La Posta (Eds.). Checklist delle specie fauna italiana, Checklist delle specie della Fauna Italiana. Calderini, Bologna.
    Bergh, L. S. R. 1880. Die Doriopsen des Mittelmeeres. Jahrbucher der Deutsche Malakozoologische Gesellschaft. 7: 297–328.
    Cattaneo-Vietti, R., and G. Barletta. 1984. Elenco preliminare dei molluschi opistobranchi viventi nel Mediterraneo (Sacoglossa, Pleurobranchomorpha, Acochlidiacea, Aplysiomorpha, Nudibranchia). Bollettino Malacologico (Pubblicazione Mensile Edita dalla Societa Italiana di Malacologia) 20(9-12):195-218.
    Cattaneo-Vietti, R., and R. Chemello. 1987. Alcune considerazioni sui molluschi opistobranchi della Sicilia. Bollettino Malacologico (Pubblicazione Mensile Edita dalla Societa Italiana di Malacologia) 23(5-8):207-222.
    Cattaneo-Vietti, R., and T. E. Thompson. 1989. Mediterranean opisthobranch molluscs: a zoogeographic approach. Bollettino Malacologico (Pubblicazione Mensile Edita dalla Societa Italiana di Malacologia) 25(5-8):183-204.
    Cattaneo-Vietti, R., R. Chemello, and R. Giannuzzi-Savelli. 1990. Atlas of Mediterranean Nudibranchs. La Conchiglia, Rome, Italy.
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    Furfaro, G., C. Schreier, E. Trainito, M. Pontes, E. Madrenas, P. Girard, and P. Mariottini. 2022. The Sea Slug Doriopsilla areolata Bergh, 1880 (Mollusca, Gastropoda) in the Mediterranean Sea: Another Case of Cryptic Diversity. Diversity. 14: 1–17.
    Marcus, Er. 1961. Opisthobranchia from North Carolina. Journal Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 77 (2): 141-151.
    Nordsieck, F. 1972. Die europäischen Meeresschnecken : (Opisthobranchia mit Pyramidellidae, Rissoacea) : vom Eismeer bis Kapverdem, Mittelmeer und Schawarzes Meer. Gustav Fischer, Stuttgart.
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    Pruvot-Fol, A. 1954. Mollusques opisthobranches, Faune de France. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France.
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    Valdés, A., and J. A. Ortea. 1994. El genero Doriopsilla Bergh, 1880 (Nudibranchia, Dendrodorididae) en el Atlantico oriental. X Congreso Nacional de Malacologia, Barcelona 13 al 16 de Septiembre de 1994, Libro de Resumenes; pp 107-108.
    Valdés, A., and J. Ortea. 1997. Review of the genus Doriopsilla Bergh, 1880 (Gastropoda: Nudibranchia) in the Atlantic Ocean. Veliger. 40: 240–254.
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    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:

Pontes, Miquel (2023) "Doriopsilla rarispinosa" in OPK-Opistobranquis. Published: 29/01/2023. Accessed: 28/02/2024. Available at (

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