Exploring the world of biodiversity
Whether you're looking for information on a seaslug named after Nelson Mandela or
advice on how to deal with fig tree-eating beetles, Museum Online South Africa's Biodiversity Explorer
will answer all your questions - and a lot more.
The information-packed website, hosted by Iziko Museums of Cape Town, gives
fascinating details about new or little-known species, recent discoveries in the field of
biodiversity and today’s threats like anthrax and the HIV/Aids virus.
It has a "Spotlight On" section, listing interesting developments on the biodiversity
front and a "Shadow Falls On" section about the latest bugs or pests and how to deal
The site has a comprehensive search facility with an extensive
database on fauna
and flora, not necessarily specific to southern Africa.
On the Mandelia microcornata seaslug, named after Nelson Mandela by two marine
biologists who discovered it, Angel Valdes and Terry Gosliner, Biodiversity Explorer says:
"It is regarded as something of an honour to have a species of organism named after
"To have a genus named after you is even more of an honour because new genera
are less often named than new species. However, an even greater honour is to have a
family named after you because new families are rarely created."
In why they named the seaslug after Mandela, the two said: "This South African
genus is named Mandelia to honour Nelson Mandela, who led the struggle for a
multiracial government in South Africa."
The specific name is taken from the Latin word mirus
(meaning odd) and
(meaning horn), "referring to the particular shape of the rhinophores of
this species". Mandelia
microcornata has only been found along the Cape Peninsula
The Biodiversity Explorer has plenty of useful information on how to tackle common
pests like head lice and cat fleas in an environmentally sound way and how to
distinguish between poisonous and non-poisonous spiders and scorpions.