Thursday, November 17, 2016

Two new frogs: Indirana bhadrai and Indirana paramakri

Frogs from the family Ranixalidae are endemic to the Western Ghats of India. They are sometimes known under the common name Indian frogs, although the more correct name would be leaping frogs. They are small and slender-bodied frogs typically found in leaf litter or near streams. 

Two new species have now been discovered. One of them was named after the location it was found in (Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary ) and the other name is derived from two Malayalam (the official language of Kerala state) words – para meaning rock and makri frog – referring to the predominant occurrence of the frogs in rocky terrains.

For the experts: The monotypic anuran family Ranixalidae is endemic to India, with a predominant distribution in the Western Ghats, a region that is home to several unique amphibian lineages. It is also one of the three ancient anuran families that diversified on the Indian landmass long before several larger radiations of extant frogs in this region. In recent years, ranixalids have been subjected to DNA barcoding and systematic studies. Nearly half of the presently recognized species in this family have been described over the last three years, along with recognition of a new genus to accommodate three previously known members. Our surveys in the Western Ghats further suggest the presence of undescribed diversity in this group, thereby increasing former diversity estimates. Based on rapid genetic identification using a mitochondrial gene, followed by phylogenetic analyses with an additional nuclear gene and detailed morphological studies including examination of museum specimens, new collections, and available literature, here we describe two new species belonging to the genus Indirana from the Western Ghats states of Karnataka and Kerala. We also provide new genetic and morphological data along with confirmed distribution records for all the species known prior to this study. This updated systematic revision of family Ranixalidae will facilitate future studies and provide vital information for conservation assessment of these relic frogs.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A new grass-miner moth: Chrysoclista germanica

The Elachistidae (grass-miner moths) are small to very small moths with wingspans of 1 cm or less. Their wings appear feather-like due to the fine hair covering the wings' fringes, and the hind wings can be much smaller than the front wings essentially consisting of a small strip with a wide hairy fringe. The caterpillars of these moths are - as their common name says - leaf miners or stem miners on grasses. 

There are about 800 species in this family and a new one from Germany was just added to the long list. Chrysoclista germanica was named after the country of origin. 

For the experts: Chrysoclista germanica sp. nov. is described from Germany (Thuringia, Bad Blankenburg). Chrysoclista gabretica Šumpich, 2012 stat. nov., originally described as subspecies of C. abchasica Sinev, 1986, is elevated to species level. Both taxonomic acts are based on the study of morphological characters of the adults (males). Photographs of voucher specimens including genitalia structures are given.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Three new birds: Stiphrornis dahomeyensis, S. inexpectatus, S. rudderi

A research team has discovered three never before documented bird species in West Africa. Two of the three species of forest robins, which all look pretty much alike at first glance, live in close proximity to one another in an area that lacks significant geographic barriers typically associated with the forming of new species. Despite this, the birds don't share genetic makeup and their appearance is indeed somewhat distinct when closely analyzed.

They are named Stiphrornis dahomeyensis or the Dahomey Forest Robin found in Benin and the central region of Ghana, the Stiphrornis inexpectatus or Ghana Forest Robin collected from Brong-Ahafo and Central Regions of Ghana, and the Stiphrornis rudderi or Rudder's Forest Robin discovered along the Congo River near Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

For the experts: We describe three new species of forest robin in the genus Stiphrornis; two from West Africa and one from the Congo Basin. Each species represents a distinct phylogenetic lineage based on genetic analysis. In addition to genetic differentiation, each new species is diagnosable from other Stiphrornis lineages by morphology, and by plumage. One of the new species appears to be restricted to the Central and Brong-Ahafo Regions of Ghana, and another is restricted to Benin and the Central Region of Ghana. In Ghana, these two new species presumably come into contact with Stiphrornis erythrothorax (Western Region of Ghana and westward), and there is evidence that one of the new species has a distinguishably different song from erythrothorax. The distribution of the third new species is primarily on the south bank of the Congo River, near the city of Kisangani. Recognition of these species provides additional evidence that Afrotropical forests are harbouring substantial cryptic diversity, and that our knowledge of the drivers of this diversity remains poorly documented across the region.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Two new wrasses: Cirrhilabrus rubeus and Cirrhilabrus africanus

Cirrhilabrus rubeus
The fish family of the wrasses or Labridae is a particular large group of marine fishes. It contains over 600 species of mostly smaller (<20cm) and often colourful fish that are associated with coral reefs or rocky shores. Juveniles of some species hide among the tentacles of mushroom coral.

Wrasses are carnivores, feeding on a wide range of small invertebrates. Many smaller species follow the feeding trails of larger fish, picking up invertebrates disturbed by their passing. A lot of labrid species are common in both public and home aquaria.

Cirrhilabrus africanus
Two new species have been described by a colleague of many years. Both new species are from the Indian Ocean, one (C. rubeus) from Sri Lanka and the Maldives, the other from the east African coast (C. africanus). The first species was named for its bright red color and the second for its origin.

For the experts: The western and central Indian Ocean population of the fairy wrasse, Cirrhilabrus rubriventralis, is here split into three allopatric species: the type species from the Red Sea; C. rubeus, n. sp., a new central Indian Ocean species from Sri Lanka and the Maldives; and C. africanus n. sp., a new east African coastal species. The three species are mainly differentiated by the color patterns of terminal-phase (TP) males. The two new species diverge from C. rubriventralis in the sequence of the barcode-mtDNA COI marker by 2.6% and 0.5%, respectively (pairwise distance; 2.7% and 0.5% K2P distance). The Indian Ocean species complex made up of the 8 spike-fin species allied with C. rubriventralis is now one of the larger species complexes among labrid reef fishes, showing an interesting pattern of allopatric sibling species dividing up the region, as well as the occurrence of localized microendemic species in Indonesia and the Timor Sea. The species complex includes some species that share mtDNA lineages (phenovariant species), as well as others up to 2.9% divergent in sequence. A neighbor-joining tree and genetic distance matrix is presented for 7 of the 8 known species in the complex. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

A new nematode: Protorhabditis hortulana

Nematodes are small worms that measure around 1mm in length and live freely in soil or water. They feed on bacteria, single-cell algae, fungi or other nematodes; they can also live as parasites of other animals or plants. But the most striking fact about them is their ability to adapt.

Scientists from the Andalusian Nematology Group at the University of Jaén focused on studying how a type of worm usually associated to damp environments has adapted to life in dry ecosystems in the south of the Iberian Peninsula. This gave rise to the discovery of a new species living only in these extreme environments. The scientists now think they could use it to detect processes of desertification.

The name of the new species was derived from the Latin word hortus, meaning orchard and referring to the habitat of which the species was collected from.

For the experts: A new species of the genus Protorhabditis is described from agricultural areas in the South East of the Iberian Peninsula. Protorhabditis hortulana sp. n. is distinguished by its very small body length (189–222 μm in females), lateral field with two longitudinal wings, lip region rounded with fused lips, stoma 10–13 μm long lacking glottoid apparatus, pharynx with distinctly swollen metacorpus, excretory pore and deirids at basal bulb level, female reproductive system outstretched and spermatheca with self-sperm, vulva slightly postequatorial (V=54–62), female tail conoid (14–19 μm, c= 11.7–17.6, c’= 1.6–2.4) with finely rounded tip, and males unknown. Description, measurements and illustrations, including SEM photographs are provided. A compendium of species of Protorhabditis is also given and illustrated.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A new loach: Eidinemacheilus proudlovei

The discovery of cave-dwelling fish (and other cave organisms) is usually a rare event. Some of my colleagues have a very good explanation for this: The reason for sparse records of subterranean fishes might be related to the aridity of the area and the rarity of caves. While subterranean fishes are often called “cave fishes”, not all of them are strictly bound to caves. Entering caves is just the way humans approach the underground world and gain access to the macroscopic part of its biodiversity. This means that there is the possibility that many more troglomorphic organisms exist, which have never been observed by humans due to the lack of human-sized openings between the hypogean and epigean worlds. 

However, sometimes we are lucky and find an exciting new species such as the new subterranean loach found in Iraqi Kurdistan. The species was named after Graham Proudlove (Manchester Museum, the University of Manchester), a world expert on subterranean fishes. The fishes were actually washed out from an aquifer and ended up in a small river. Here some footage - pretty exciting as it is obviously very rare to see these fishes under normal light conditions:


For the experts: Eidinemacheilus proudlovei, new species, is described from subterranean waters in the Little Zab River drainage in Iraqi Kurdistan. After the discovery of E. smithi in 1976, E. proudlovei is the second troglomorphic nemacheilid loach found in the Middle East and the second species placed in Eidinemacheilus. Eidinemacheilus proudlovei is distinguished from E. smithi by having 8+8 or 8+7 branched caudal-fin rays, no adipose keel on the caudal peduncle, enlarged jaws and a fully developed head canal system. It furthers differs substantially in its DNA barcode (>8% K2P distance) from all other nemacheilid loaches in the Middle East, Europe and Western India.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Two new palpigrades: Eukoenenia jequitinhonha and Eukoenenia cavatica

Eukoenenia cavatica
A palpigrade, also known as a microwhip scorpion, is a distant relative of the spiders, mites, and scorpions. They are tiny organisms not larger than 3 mm and live in wet tropical and subtropical soils or caves and underground spaces. They need a damp environment to survive, and they always hide from light, so they are commonly found in the moist earth under buried stones and rocks.

Both new species were found in caves in Brazil. One was named after the Jequitinhonha river, in whose drainage basin the animals were found. The other species name is Latin and  stands for living in a cave.

For the experts: Two new species of troglobiotic Brazilian palpigrades are described: Eukoenenia jequitinhonha sp. n., found in Lapa do Córrego do Vieira cave (Caraí, Minas Gerais) and E. cavatica sp. n., found in Cazanga cave (Arcos, Minas Gerais). The importance of documenting the occurrence of troglobiotic species, even if they are represented by only a single specimen, is discussed.