Dr. C. Swennen, a Dutch zoologist conducting research at Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus for over ten years, Mr. Somsak Buatip, a scientist at Biology Department, Museum of Natural History, and the Local Learning Network of the Faculty of Science and Technology, Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus have discovered the world’s latest sea slug which is a new genus, new species in the Phylum: Mollusca, Class: Gastropoda, Family: Aitengidae, called Aiteng ater or “Aiteng” in a muddy mangrove forest covered with various mangrove trees.
Aiteng ater can be found in footprints filled with brackish water, crab holes, and water basins where leaves and twigs pile up and decompose in the area affected by the changing tides in Pak Phanang Bay, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province. Like other living things, this sea slug plays an important role in the food chain in the mangrove ecosystem.
Aiteng ater is black and 6-17 millimeters long. It can survive on land by excreting mucus to cover its body to retain moisture, and in water just like other amphibians. This special characteristic of Aiteng ater is rarely found in other sea slugs that have been discovered and studied. The study found that Aiteng ater fed on pupae of various insects. They have been collected and kept at the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science and Technology for further study.
The name Aiteng ater is a combination between the Southern Thai dialect and Latin. “Aiteng” is a main puppet whose skin complexion is dark and whose eyes are similar to this sea slug’s, and the word “ater” comes from Latin meaning black.
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