Members of Family
Aphroditidae have a wide, flat dorsal surface nearly or
covered with a tangle of elongated notosetae
which are so long and narrow that they look like a feltlike tangle of
dark hairs. The notosetae
are covering flattened plates (elytra)
but these cannot usually be seen. Their body
segments are wider
than long and this, combined with the feltlike tangle of notosetae,
make the animals look like a dead mouse when viewed from
japonica has elytra
completely hidden by the notosetae,
which are smooth and do not have barbs near their tips. The palps
are only 4-7x as long as the prostomium
and the median antenna is at least as long as the prostomium.
The body has between 38-43 segments. The neurosetae
sometimes have hairs or short spines, and the most ventral neurosetae
are coppery or gold in color.
Aphrodita japonica Marenzeller, 1879
Common name(s): Sea mouse
|Aphrodita japonica captured at
70 m depth west of Yellow Island,
WA from a soft bottom.
|(Photo by: Dave Cowles,
How to Distinguish from
Laetmonice pellucida has elytra
not completely covered by notosetae.
Aphrodita longipalpa has palps
8-11x as long as the prostomium. Aphrodita parva
has a body
of only about 27 segments. Aphrodita negligens
has a club-shaped
median antenna which is shorter than the prostomium.
Aphrodita refulgida has smooth neurosetae
and its ventralmost neurosetae
are bright green and iridescent.
Range: Reports include
records from British Columbia through coastal Washington and California
to Costa Rica, and our marine station has several specimens collected
the area around Rosario and the San Juan Islands. Presumably
may also be found in Japan.
Subtidal to at least
Buried in mud and sand.
History: This is one of the few marine species
sea cucumbers) that appears to use anal respiration.
and Fairbanks 1966
General Notes and
abundances, unusual behaviors:
The segments visible on the underside show clearly that the
is a polychaete. The head is to the left. Notice
also the thicker,
which contrast with the tangle of thinner, lighter notosetae.
Here is a ventral
view of the head with the palps
showing. The prostomium
cannot be seen under the tangle of notosetae.
|Dorsal view of notosetae,
with some neurosetae
visible below. Notice the tangle of long, thin notosetae.
The animal crawls through the mud, some of which adheres to the notosetae.
A millimeter scale is visible to the right.
|Ventral view of neurosetae,
with some notosetae
visible behind. Notice how much thicker and stiffer the neurosetae
are than the notosetae,
and also that the ventralmost neurosetae
are a dark coppery color.
japonica appears to use some sort of anal
Every 10-15 seconds a dorsal projection at the posterior end opens up
a stream of water spurts forcefully out. The projection is
1 cm tall and wide. The stream of water causes a visible jet
water's surface at least 10 cm away. This photo shows the
Authors and Editors of
Dave Cowles (2007): Created original page
Jonathan Cowles (2007): Updated page with CSS