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A Spanish dancer? No! A troupe of dancers: a review of the family Hexabranchidae Bergh, 1891 (Gastropoda, Heterobranchia, Nudibranchia)
Color ontogeny and variations associated with discrete morphological differences may generate taxonomical challenges, which requires multiple data types and in-depth historical review. The nudibranch known as the Spanish dancer, Hexabranchus sanguineus, is a classic example with over 200 years of taxonomic confusion. Currently, H. sanguineus is accepted by most authors as a single species from the Indo-Pacific Ocean with Hexabranchus morsomus as a valid species from the Atlantic Ocean. Yet, despite these species being highly studied, their systematic status remains debatable. Over 30 synonyms have been proposed for H. sanguineus and even a distinct genus for H. morsomus. Here we provide, for the first time, a comprehensive review of all proposed names and an integrative taxonomic revision of the genus including morphological and molecular data. Our results reveal that H. sanguineus is a complex of five species: four previously described and an undescribed species, one of the largest nudibranchs in the world: Hexabranchus giganteus sp. nov. The genus Caribranchus is considered a junior synonym of Hexabranchus Ehrenberg, 1828 and the ontogeny of color pattern is discussed.