Friday, December 18, 2015

Three new fishing snakes

Commonly known as fishing snakes, the Synophis genus has been expanded with as many as three new species following a research in the Andean cloud forests of Amazonian Ecuador and Peru.

Although they are commonly known as fishing snakes, these reptiles most likely do not eat fish. Their diet and behavior are poorly known. So far, it has only been reported that one species feeds on lizards.

The fishing snakes have long been known to live in cloud forests on both sides of the Andes of Colombia and Ecuador. Yet, it seems they have waited all along to make an appearance. The new species described herein, along with a recent description of one species from southwestern Ecuador, has duplicated the number of species of fishing snakes from four to eight over the span of several months.

For the experts: The discovery of three new species of Synophis snakes from the eastern slopes of the tropical Andes in Ecuador and Peru is reported. All previous records of S. bicolor from eastern Ecuador correspond to S. bogerti sp. n., which occurs between 1000–1750 m along a large part of the Amazonian slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes. In contrast, Synophis zamora sp. n. is restricted to southeastern Ecuador, including Cordillera del Cóndor, between 1543–1843 m. Synophis insulomontanus sp. n. is from the eastern slopes of the Andes in central and northern Peru, between 1122–1798 m, and represents the first record of Synophis from this country. All three new species share in common a large lateral spine at the base of the hemipenial body. A molecular phylogenetic tree based on three mitochondrial genes is presented, including samples of Diaphorolepis wagneri. Our tree strongly supports Synophis and Diaphorolepis as sister taxa, as well as monophyly of the three new species described here and S. calamitus. Inclusion of Synophis and Diaphorolepis within Dipsadinae as sister to a clade containing Imantodes, Dipsas, Ninia, Hypsiglena and Pseudoleptodeira is also supported.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Another new frog: Xenopus eysoole

African clawed frogs of the genus Xenopus (especially Xenopus leavis) are used as model organisms for biological research. One would assume we know already the number of species in that group and other aspects of their diversity such as where they live and how they are related to one another. However, that is not the case. Researchers have now discovered half a dozen new species of the African clawed frog, and added back another to the list of known species. 

These clawed frogs, found in west and central sub-Saharan Africa, live in slow moving or stagnant water and are characterized by flattened bodies, vocal organs which can produce sound underwater, and claws on their first three toes.

One of the new species was named in consultation with the Fon of Oku and his advisors. Its name was derived from the Oku language. Roughly translated, the word eysoole (pronounced “ee-su-lay”) means “it will jump so hold it tightly,”.

For the experts: African clawed frogs, genus Xenopus, are extraordinary among vertebrates in the diversity of their polyploid species and the high number of independent polyploidization events that occurred during their diversification. Here we update current understanding of the evolutionary history of this group and describe six new species from west and central sub-Saharan Africa, including four tetraploids and two dodecaploids. We provide information on molecular variation, morphology, karyotypes, vocalizations, and estimated geographic ranges, which support the distinctiveness of these new species. We resurrect Xenopus calcaratus from synonymy of Xenopus tropicalis and refer populations from Bioko Island and coastal Cameroon (near Mt. Cameroon) to this species. To facilitate comparisons to the new species, we also provide comments on the type specimens, morphology, and distributions of X. epitropicalis, X. tropicalis, and X. fraseri. This includes significantly restricted application of the names X. fraseri and X. epitropicalis, the first of which we argue is known definitively only from type specimens and possibly one other specimen. Inferring the evolutionary histories of these new species allows refinement of species groups within Xenopus and leads to our recognition of two subgenera (Xenopus and Silurana) and three species groups within the subgenus Xenopus (amieti, laevis, and muelleri species groups).

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A new sea cucumber: Stichopus fusiformiossa

Sea cucumbers are echinoderms which means their are closely related to starfish and urchins. They cucumbers are typically 10 to 30 cm in length, although the smallest known species is just 3 mm long, and the largest grows up to 3 m. As their name suggests, most sea cucumbers have a soft, cylindrical and elongated body.

Sea cucumbers can be found everywhere on the ocean floor but in remarkable high numbers on the deep seafloor, where they often make up the majority of the animal biomass.At depths larger than 8.9 km, sea cucumbers comprise 90% of the total mass of the macrofauna. Sea cucumbers form large herds that move at the bottom of the ocean, hunting for food.

Many sea cucumbers are valued as food and as a source of medicine, and Stichopus is a commonly exploited genus. Today's new species, found in the Straits of Malacca, Malaysia, is a member of this genus and its name is derived from the Latin words of fusiform (fusiformis) and bone (ossa).

For the experts: Five sea cucumber species including one new species of the genus Stichopus are reported from the shallow coral reefs of Straits of Malacca. The new species Stichopus fusiformiossa has unusual fusiform spicules in the tentacles, which are not found in the other species of the genus. Pseudo-tables and large perforated plates are newly recorded for Stichopus hermanni Semper, 1868 and Stichopus vastus Sluiter, 1887, respectively.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A new frog: Dendropsophus bromeliaceus

Some tree frog species spends the tadpole stage of their life in pooled water that accumulates in bromeliad plants. These frogs are often related to species that have a larval phase always associated with temporary or lentic water bodies (i.e. ponds and swamps).

Bromeliads are remarkably important for some local life. The accumulation of rainwater between their leaves provides refuge, moisture, and water for a very diverse associated fauna.

Our new treefrog was named bromeliaceus refers to the reproductive habit of the new species. The suffix aceus is Latin, meaning belonging to.

For the experts: We describe a new treefrog species of Dendropsophus collected on rocky outcrops in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Ecologically, the new species can be distinguished from all known congeners by having a larval phase associated with rainwater accumulated in bromeliad phytotelms instead of temporary or lentic water bodies. Phylogenetic analysis based on molecular data confirms that the new species is a member of Dendropsophus; our analysis does not assign it to any recognized species group in the genus. Morphologically, based on comparison with the 96 known congeners, the new species is diagnosed by its small size, framed dorsal color pattern, and short webbing between toes IV-V. The advertisement call is composed of a moderate-pitched two-note call (~5 kHz). The territorial call contains more notes and pulses than the advertisement call. Field observations suggest that this new bromeligenous species uses a variety of bromeliad species to breed in, and may be both territorial and exhibit male parental care.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A new dragonfly: Umma gumma

Today's new species is actually just one out of sixty newly discovered and described species from Africa. What is also remarkable is that nine of the 60 dragonflies were discovered by an employed biologist, all others in a teacher's and environmental consultants' free time. With this research, the number of dragonfly species known from Africa increases by almost 10%, from 700 to 760 species.

All dragonflies are bound to freshwater, which covers less than 1% of the planet's surface. Nonetheless, it is home to about 10% of all animal species. As freshwater is used so intensively, life is most threatened there. The beauty and sensitivity of dragonflies provides a perfect symbol of freshwater heath and biodiversity. Their presence is also an indicator of good water quality. 

Does anybody recognizes the species name? Perhaps only those that are about my age and older. It refers to the 1969 Pink Floyd album Ummagumma

For the experts: Man knows just one fifth of the nine million species of animal, plant, fungus and protist thought to inhabit our planet. Dragonflies and damselflies are regarded as well-known, however. Nevertheless we describe 60 new species, the most to be named at once in 130 years, adding one to every twelve species known in Africa. Each species is colourful and can often be recognised even from a photograph, showing that not all unknown life is indistinct and concealed. The species’ beauty and sensitivity can raise awareness for the densest and most threatened biodiversity: freshwater covers less than one percent of Earth’s surface, but harbours ten percent of animal species, of which a third may be at risk of extinction. Most of them, like dragonflies, are insects. They are popular indicators of habitat value and quality, but without a name cannot be added to the IUCN Red list. As habitats are rapidly disappearing, more exploratory and descriptive research is needed, support for which has waned. Nature, natural historians and the archives of life they build together are all under threat: our 60 new species are therefore as much an act of desperation as urgency. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

A new goby: Nesogobius tigrinus

One of the largest families of fishes are the Gobies. More than 2000 species are currently known but it seems that there are many goby species we haven't discovered yet. Gobies include some of the smallest vertebrates in the world, such as Trimmatom nanus and Pandaka pygmaea, which are under 1 cm long when fully grown.

Gobies can be found all over the world in tropical and temperate near shore-marine, brackish and freshwater environments. On coral reefs, they constitute 35% of the total number of fishes. Gobies are elusive bottom-dwellers building burrows they occupy as pairs. Some species live inside the bodies (e.g. sponges) or burrows of invertebrates.

The new species was found around Kangaroo Island in Australia and its name was derived from Latin for 'banded'.

For the experts: Nesogobius is one of two goby genera with all species wholly restricted to temperate Australian waters. Described here is a new member of the genus discovered during near-shore marine and estuarine fish sampling along the central southern Australian coastline. The tiger sandgoby Nesogobius tigrinus sp. nov. is distinguished from other congeners by a combination of colouration including four prominent vertical black bars on males; morphological characters involving body scales (large), head scales (naked), body depth (slender) and gill opening (wide); meristic counts including a lack of second dorsal and anal fin spines; and mitochondrial DNA sequence divergence. The species appears to be a narrow range endemic, restricted to specific sub-tidal habitat in the unique sheltered embayments of northeast Kangaroo Island. This study forms part of ongoing investigations to more fully describe the biodiversity and conservation requirements of the
regional ichthyofauna.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A new plant: Aporosa tetragona

The plant genus Aporosa belongs to the family Phyllanthaceae. Most species of this large family (2000 species) occur in the tropics. Nearly half of them belong to the genus Phyllanthus known from horticulture and as potted plant. Some species have also been used for the medicinal properties. The genus Aporosa is native to South East Asia and parts of Australia.

During a botanical survey of Mt. Hon Ba in Khanh Hoa Province, South Vietnam the new species was found. The species name reflects the quadrangular shape of the ovaries in the flowers and fruits.

For the experts: A new species, Aporosa tetragona Tagane & V. S. Dang, sp. nov., is described and illustrated from Mt. Hon Ba located in the Khanh Hoa Province, South Vietnam. This species is characterized by tetragonal pistillate flowers and fruits, which are clearly distinguishable from the other previously known species of the genus. The morphology and phylogeny based on rbcL and matK of this species indicated that the new species belongs to section Appendiculatae Pax & K. Hoffm.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A new bat: Otomops harrisoni

The bat genus Otomops belongs to the family of the so called free-tailed bats (Molossidae). Most species of this genus are distributed in South East Asia and only two are known to occur in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. 

Today's new species was found in the highlands of Ethiopia and its common name is quite a mouthful: Harrison’s large-eared giant mastiff bat.  The new species was named after the late renowned mammalogist, taxonomist and bat expert Dr. David L. Harrison (1926–2015).

For the experts: The paucity of data for the molossid bat Otomops throughout its range has hindered our ability to resolve the number of Otomops species present within the Afro-Malagasy region (including the Arabian Peninsula). This paper employed an integrative approach by combining morphometric (cranial morphology) and molecular (mitochondrial cytochrome b and Dloop sequences, nuclear intron sequences and microsatellites) data to identify the number of Otomops taxa occurring in the Afro-Malagasy region. Three taxa were identified, two of which could be assigned to existing species, i.e. O. martiensseni and O. madagascariensis. The third taxon, previously recognised as O. martiensseni (Matschie 1897), is described herein as a new species, Otomops harrisoni sp. nov., and can be differentiated from O. martiensseni s.s. based on both molecular and morphometric data. Locality data of specimens belonging to O. harrisoni suggest that its distribution range extends from the Arabian Peninsula through to Eritrea and south to Ethiopia and Kenya.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Four new plant bugs

Two entomologists from the University of California, Riverside, examined 761 specimens from museum collections and determined that some were mislabeled and were actually species that were not yet known to science.

They placed them into a new genus that is called Restiophylus. "Restio" comes from the name of  the host-plant  family Restionaceae, and "phylus" indicates that it is classified in the subfamily Phylinae.

The four new species are R. hypolaenae, R. leptocarpi, R. lyginiae, and R. meeboldinae. All of them were named for the association with particular host-plant groups.

For the experts: The phyline fauna of Australia has only recently been shown to be highly diverse, both at the species and the genus levels. Here, a new genus and four new species of Australian Phylinae (Hemiptera: Miridae) are described. The species of Restiophylus, n. gen., occur on two genera of the rush-like Restionaceae, Hypolaena Brown 1810 and Leptocarpus Brown 1810, and on one genus of the closely related Anarthriaceae, Lyginia Brown 1810. Habitus images, illustrations of male genitalia, scanning micrographs, an identification key, and distribution maps for the new species are provided as well as digital images and distribution maps for the hosts. Consistent with the geographic distribution patterns of many other Australian Phylinae, the four new species are restricted to the Mediterranean-type biome of Western Australia. A cladistic analysis based on 55 morphological characters, four ingroup taxa, and 31 outgroup taxa is presented, providing evidence for the monophyly of this new genus and its placement in the tribe Semiini, and potentially as sister to the subtribe Exocarpocorina.

Monday, December 7, 2015

A new Black-eyed Satyr: Euptychia attenboroughi

A beautiful new Black-eyed Satyr species has become the first butterfly named in honour of the popular naturalist and TV presenter Sir David Attenborough - one of my personal heroes. Although not the first animal to be named after Attenborough, the butterfly is so rare that it is known only from lowland tropical forests of the upper Amazon basin in Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil.

The butterfly's atypical wings in comparison to its relatives, have been the reason the colleagues took to plenty of diagnostic characters to define its taxonomic placement. The peculiar patterns and morphology initially led the researchers to think the species could be even a new genus but DNA evidence confirmed that it belongs to the genus Euptychia.

For the experts: Two new species of Euptychia Hübner, 1818 are described from the upper Amazon basin: E. attenboroughi Neild, Nakahara, Fratello & Le Crom, sp. n. (type locality: Amazonas, Venezuela), and E. sophiae Zacca, Nakahara, Dolibaina & Dias, sp. n. (type locality: Acre, Brazil). Their unusual facies prompted molecular and phylogenetic analyses of one of the species resulting in support for their classification in monophyletic Euptychia. Diagnostic characters for the two species are presented based on wing morphology, wing pattern, presence of androconial patches on the hindwing, and genitalia. Our results indicate that the projection of the tegumen above the uncus, previously considered a synapomorphy for Euptychia, is not shared by all species in the genus. The adults and their genitalia are documented, and distribution data and a map are provided.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A new fish: Hemigrammocapoeta menderesensis,

The week ends with another new fish species: The genus Hemigrammocapoeta is likely among the leaders when it comes to the length of the genus name. Hemigrammocapoeta is not only quite a mouth full but also a small genus of the family Cyprinidae. So far it comprises of just four species. This new description makes if five. 

All of the species are threatened by habitat loss, particularly due to water pollution and unsustainable water extraction for agriculture.

The new name was derived from the Büyük Menderes River, the type locality.

For the experts: Hemigrammocapoeta menderesensis is distinguished from all other species of Hemigrammocapoeta in Anatolia by the following combination of characters (none unique to the species): lateral line incomplete; 6–17 perforated scales and 36– 41 +1–2 scales in lateral series; 7½–8½ scale rows between lateral line and dorsal-fin origin, 3–4 scale rows between lateral series and anal-fin origin; dorsal fin commonly with 7½ branched rays; anal fin with 5½ branched rays; 15–17 gill rakers on the first brachial arch; pharyngeal teeth 2.4.5–5.3.3; mouth small, subterminal, horseshoe shaped and without barbel; lips developed and somewhat fleshy; upper lip not covering nostril gape; lower lip with two lateral lobes and median pad; lateral lobes smaller and shorter than half width of median pad; numerous papillae on lower and upper lips.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A new rove beetle: Pseudophanias spinitarsis

The beetle family Staphylinidae, better known as rove beetles, is currently the largest group of beetles. It contains about 60 000 species in thousands of genera.  Most rove beetles are predators of insects and other kinds of invertebrates, living in forest leaf litter and similar kinds of decaying plant matter. They are also commonly found under stones, and around freshwater and oceanic margins.

One subfamily (Pselaphinae) comprises of  about 170 species of  cave-associated beetles that occur all over the world. Our new species represents a new member in this group. It was found in the Mahendra cave in central Nepal. The name of the new species refers to the modified male pro- and mesotarsi.

For the experts: The genus Pseudophanias Raffray is one of the 30 extant genera of the Tmesiphorini (Yin et al. 2013), its members are distinct in possessing small, unmodified maxillary palpi, and often strongly modified antennae in the male. Achille Raffray described (Raffray 1890a, 1890b, 1895, 1905) all ten hitherto known species that occur in West Malaysia (Penang; 4 spp.), Singapore (2 spp.), and Indonesia (Sumatra; 4 spp.). All of these are localized species, with four collected from sifted litter samples in forests, and the rest of uncertain ecological status. In this paper we describe a new species with remarkably elongate body form and appendages, collected by Dr. Petar Beron (Sofia, Bulgaria) in a cave (Mahendra Gupha) in central Nepal. While the genus Pseudophanias requires a complete revision, this species is quite distinctive in comparison to its nemoricolous relatives.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A new snake: Synophis zaheri

Synophis is a genus of snakes belonging to the family Dipsadidae. Its species are distributed throughout Colombia and Ecuador and have not been found elsewhere. Little is know about these snakes. One of the species is known only through one male specimen found a while ago.

The newest member of the genus was found in the Andean cloud forests of south west Ecuador. It was named after the Brazilian herpetologist Hussam El-Dine Zaher, for his contributions to South American herpetology and snake systematics.

For the experts: Within Dipsadinae, some recent authors have recognized a tribe Nothopsini containing the genera Diaphorolepis, Emmochliophis, Nothopsis, Synophis, and Xenopholis, on the basis of a number of putative morphological synapomorphies. However, molecular results suggest that Nothopsis, Synophis, and Xenopholis do not form a monophyletic group, while the remaining taxa are unsampled in recent molecular phylogenies. Here, DNA-sequence data for some Diaphorolepis and Synophis species are provided for the first time, as well as additional new sequences for Nothopsis and some Synophis species. Including these and other existing data for nothopsine species, previous studies showing that Nothopsini is not a natural group are corroborated. Nothopsini Cope, 1871 is restricted to Nothopsis. Diaphorolepidini Jenner, 1981 is resurrected and re-delimited to include only Diaphorolepis, Emmochliophis, and Synophis. Finally, Xenopholis remains Dipsadinae incertae sedis. Known material of Diaphorolepidini is reviewed to generate revised and expanded descriptions and diagnoses at the tribe, genus, and species level. Numerous cryptic species are likely present in S. bicolor and S. lasallei. Finally, a new population from the low-elevation cloud forests of SW Ecuador is reported upon, which is genetically and morphologically distinct from all other species, that is here named Synophis zaheri sp. n.

Friday, November 27, 2015

A new milliped: Ceratosphys cryodeserti

A large group of millipedes with about 1200 species forms the order Chordeumatida, a name that was derived from the Greek word for sausage. These relatively short-bodied millipeds are occurring on all continents except Antarctica. 

The new species was found in the Sierra Nevada in Spain and its name means “of the cold desert” and refers to the high altitude habitat it lives in.

For the experts: Millipedes (Diplopoda), with a few notable exceptions, are poor dispersers, showing a very high degree of endemicity, not the least in mountains. The first samplings of the Mesovoid Shallow Substratum (MSS) of the higher altitudes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains (Baetic System, Southern Spain) have led to the discovery of a high number of millipedes, each of the species present showing a different degree of establishment in this subterranean environment. An update of the knowledge on the millipedes of this region, the first data of the millipede communities in the MSS and the description of Ceratosphys cryodeserti Gilgado, Mauriès & Enghoff n. sp. are here provided, as well as the first data on the humidity and temperature fluctuations in the MSS of this high mountain. The new species is similar to other Baetico-Riffan species, while the only previously known congener from the region, C. soutadei Mauriès, 1969, has more similarities to certain Pyrenean species. Biogeographical relationships of all the captured species are also discussed.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A new crown wasp: Pseudomegischus notiochinensis

Crown wasps or Stephanidae are a family of parasitoid wasps that are noted for a semicircular to circular set of projections around the middle ocellus (simple eye), forming a "crown" on the head. The wasps are parasitoids of wood eating beetle larvae, mostly from the families Cerambycidae and Buprestidae, though some Curculionidae and occasional hymenopteran hosts are taken.

The new species Pseudomegischus notiochinensis was named after the country of origin, “notios” being Greek for “southern”.

For the experts: The genus Pseudomegischus van Achterberg, 2002, is newly reported from China. A new species, P. notiochinensis sp. n., is described and illustrated from southern China. A key to the species of Pseudomegischus is included.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A new cichlid: Ptychochromis mainty

My personal favorites are fishes from the family Cichlidae. This group comprises of perhaps 2000-3000 very diverse freshwater species. This makes them one of the largest vertebrate families. 

Almost all of these fishes occur in the southern hemisphere. They have long been an important source of food for humans with the consequence that in places such as Lake Tanganyika, they are so overfished that they are in danger of disappearing. Outside the southern hemisphere, the cichlids are known mostly to tropical-fish enthusiasts through a couple of colorful representatives, e.g. the discus or the freshwater angelfish. However, nowadays people will likely know cichlids from tilapia which are increasingly farmed as a food source in the northern hemisphere. 

Today's newcomer belongs to a small genus that is endemic to Madagascar - Ptychochromis. The species was named after the Malagasy word for black, mainty, referring to the species’ uniform dark
pigmentation pattern in preservation and large black midlateral blotch in life.

For the experts: We describe a new species in the endemic Malagasy cichlid genus Ptychochromis. Ptychochromis mainty, new species, is known from four individuals, all collected in the Fort Dauphin region of southeastern Madagascar, and shares a palatine morphology (eastern-type palatine) with other eastern congeners. Ptychochromis mainty is distinguished from all congeners by a nearly uniform dark brown to black pigmentation pattern in preservation and by the presence of a relatively continuous and expansive black longitudinal midlateral blotch in life, extending from the posterior margin of the opercle to the caudal peduncle. The new species is further distinguished from other eastern Ptychochromis species by having minimal or no overlap of the first supraneural with the dorsoposterior region of the supraoccipital crest (vs. marked overlap). We present a molecular-based phylogeny for all available Ptychochromis species, which supports the hypothesis that P. mainty is a distinct taxon. The new species is recovered as the sister taxon to P. grandidieri within a clade comprising species with an eastern-type palatine morphology. We present a geometric morphometric analysis that provides additional evidence to distinguish P. mainty from congeners.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Three new geometer moths: Hagnagora richardi, H. hedwigae, H. mirandahenrichae

Many of the Caterpillars of the Geometridae pull their bodies into loops as they move. These Caterpillars lack the first two or three pairs of prolegs, so that looping is their best means of progression. It is this movement that gave them their name which is Latin and means "earth measurer". They are also very often called Inch Worms because they measure off one inch at a time as they progress. This method of progression has been suggested as being specially suitable for moving over rough terrain.

The three new species were found in Ecuador and Costa Rica and named after several sponsors (Mr Richard Philipp, Mrs Hedwig Seppelt, Ms. Miranda Henrich), of the taxonomic research on Geometrids.

For the experts: Three new Hagnagora Druce species (Geometridae, Larentiinae) are described: Hagnagora richardi Brehm, sp. n. from Ecuador, H. hedwigae Brehm, sp. n. from Ecuador, and H. mirandahenrichae Brehm, sp. n. from Costa Rica. A checklist of taxa assigned to Hagnagora is provided. Hagnagora is provisionally divided into six clades: the anicata clade (6 species), the buckleyi clade (3 species), the croceitincta clade (3 species), the ephestris clade (3 species), the mortipax clade (4 species) and H. subrosea (1 species). Two taxa are revived from synonymy: H. catagrammina Druce, stat. rev. and H. luteoradiata Thierry-Mieg, stat. rev. Two taxa are reinstated from subspecies to species level: H. acothysta Schaus, stat. rev. and H. jamaicensis Schaus, stat. rev. Four taxa are provisionally removed from Hagnagora: “Hagnagora” ignipennis, “Hagnagora” mesenata, “Hagnagora” vittata, and “Hagnagora” ceraria. After these changes, the genus Hagnagora now comprises 20 valid species.

I thought I throw this in as well:

A new copopod: Mexiclopina campechana

Copepods are small, planktonic animals living both in the sea and in freshwater habitats. Cyclopoids are an order of copepods that is distinguished from other copepods by having shorter first antennae than the length of their head and body.

Cyclopoid copepods play an important role in aquatic food webs as either primary consumers or predators.  They often are also an important source of food for larval, juvenile, and adult fish of many species. Cyclopoids are intermediate hosts of many parasitic worms (tapeworms, cestodes, roundworms) that infect vertebrates, including humans.

The new species Mexiclopina campechana belongs to a new genus that was named after Mexico. The species is named after the state of Campeche in southeast Mexico, where the species was found.

For the experts: A new, monotypic genus of the interstitial marine cyclopoid copepod family Cyclopinidae G.O. Sars, 1913 is described from male and female specimens collected at Laguna de Términos, a large coastal lagoon system in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Mexiclopina campechana gen. et sp. n. cannot be adequately placed in any extant genus within the family. It differs from other cyclopinid genera in having a unique combination of characters including: 1) absence of modified brush-like seta on the mandibular exopod; 2) maxillule exopod with stout setal elements and brush-like setae absent; 3) basis of mandible with one seta; 4) presence of a modified seta on endopod of fourth leg; 5) fifth leg exopod unsegmented, armed with three elements in the female and five in the male; 6) intercoxal sclerite of first swimming leg with two medial spiniform processes on distal margin. The new genus is monotypic and appears to be most closely related to Cyclopina Claus, 1863 and Heptnerina Ivanenko & Defaye, 2004; the new species was compared with species of Cyclopina and it resembles C. americana Herbst, 1982 and C. caissara Lotufo, 1994. This is the second record of a species of Cyclopinidae in Mexico and the first in the Gulf of Mexico; the number of cyclopinid species recorded from the Americas is now 13.

Friday, November 20, 2015

A new harvestman: Iandumoema smeagol

Opiliones is an order of arachnids commonly known as harvestmen or daddy longlegs. About 6 500 species of harvestmen have been described so far but estimates put the total number of species to more than 10 000.

Named after Tolkien's character from the "Lord of the Rings" series, a new eyeless harvestman species was found to crawl in a humid cave in southeastern Brazil. Never getting out of its subterranean home, the new daddy longlegs species is the most highly modified representative among its close relatives. In case you are not familiar with Tolkiens work, Smeagol, is the original name of Gollum who spend a long time of his life in the caves located below the Misty Mountains of Middle-earth of the Lord of the Rings book.

For the experts: A new species of troglobitic harvestman, Iandumoema smeagol sp. n., is described from Toca do Geraldo, Monjolos municipality, Minas Gerais state, Brazil. Iandumoema smeagol sp. n. is distinguished from the other two species of the genus by four exclusive characteristics – dorsal scutum areas with conspicuous tubercles, enlarged retrolateral spiniform tubercle on the distal third of femur IV, eyes absent and the penial ventral process slender and of approximately the same length of the stylus. The species is the most highly modified in the genus and its distribution is restricted only to caves in that particular area of Minas Gerais state. The type locality is not inside a legally protected area, and there are anthropogenic impacts in its surroundings. Therefore, Iandumoema smeagol sp. n. is vulnerable and it must be considered in future conservation projects.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A new springtail: Paratullbergia changfengensis

Springtails, or collembola, are tiny arthropods. Their size ranges from 0.25 to 6 mm. Springtails normally live in damp soil. They eat mold and fungus.

They get their name from a spring-loaded structure, called the furcula, located on the underside of their abdomen. Most species have an tail-like appendage, the furcula, that is folded beneath the body to be used for jumping when the animal is threatened. It is held under tension by a small structure and when released, snaps against the ground, flinging the springtail into the air. All of this takes place in as little as 18 milliseconds and a jump can cover 10 centimeters.

This new species from China was named after the Changfeng Park where the type specimens were collected.

For the experts: The genus Paratullbergia Womersley, 1930 is recorded for the first time from China. Paratullbergia changfengensis sp. n. from Shanghai is described and illustrated. It is characterized by the presence of 1+1 pseudocelli on thoracic segment I, with two pairs of pseudocelli on each of thoracic segments II and III, presence of seta px on abdominal segment IV, seta a2 and p4 on abdominal segment V as microsetae, and less differentiated sensory seta p3 on abdominal segment V. Both sexes present. The new species can be easily distinguished from its congeners by the presence of pseudocelli on thoracic segment I. An updated key to the world species of the genus Paratullbergia is provided.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A new wrasse: Terelabrus dewapyle

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. 

The name of the new species is a combination of the surnames of Mr. Shin-ichi Dewa and Dr Richard L. Pyle who collected all type specimens in Japan.

For the experts: A new labrid fish Terelabrus dewapyle sp. nov. is described as the second species of the genus, on the basis of five specimens collected from southern Japan, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji in depths of 72–92 m. The sole paratype of T. rubrovittatus Randall & Fourmanoir 1998 is herein identified as T. dewapyle and designated as a paratype of the latter. The new species can be distinguished from T. rubrovittatus by the following characters: lower number of scale rows in the longitudinal series (41 or 42 vs. 45–48 in the latter), fewer pored lateral-line scales (39 or 40 vs. 43–45), and fewer gill rakers (12 or 13 vs. 14 or 15); a broader space between the anteroventral margin of the orbit and the maxilla [least distance 1.2– 3.7% (mean 2.5%) SL vs. 0.5–2.3% (1.6%)]; no red blotches on the midlateral red stripe in adults and young (vs. 8–10 red blotches superimposed on midlateral red stripe in adults); no yellow band on the dorsal fin (vs. broad vivid yellow band submarginally on the dorsal fin in adults, pale yellow band in young); a vivid yellow (vs. white) space between the upper and midlateral red stripes; and a black blotch superimposed on the midlateral red stripe on the opercle in young, the black blotch fading with growth (vs. black blotch absent or indistinct).

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A new snakefly: Inocellia indica

Snakeflies are related to lacewings. The adult has a long thorax and is able to raise the head above the rest of the body which gives it the appearance of a snake ready to strike. Their larvae live under the bark of forest, ornamental and fruit trees and can be very helpful predators in fruit orchards as they feed on wood-boring insects, small insects such as aphids and caterpillars, and various insect eggs. Adults also are predaceous and feed on aphids or other small, prey. 

The specific name refers to the geographical distribution of this new species which is currently known only from India.

For the experts: A new species of the snakefly genus Inocellia Schneider, 1843 from northeastern India is described: Inocellia indica sp. nov. The new taxon represents the second species of Raphidioptera from the northeastern part of the Indian Subcontinent and appears to be closely related to I. bhutana Aspöck, Aspöck & Rausch, 1991 from neighboring Bhutan.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A new catfish: Curculionichthys coxipone

Another new member of the family Loricariidae. Actually I am introducing only one of three new species that belong to a newly formed genus. Being close relatives within the same genus, eight catfishes showed a number of external differences, such as characteristic elongated mouths, hinting to their separate origin. Following a thorough morphological as well as molecular analysis, a team of researchers suggested that five previously known species along with the three new ones, need a new genus to accommodate for this. 

The name Curculionichthys for the proposed genus was formed by the Latin word for "elongated snout" and the suffix "ichthys" meaning "fishes" in Greek. The species name coxipone refers to the Coxiponé indigenous people who inhabit the margins of Rio Cuiabá, near to the municipality of Cuiabá in Mato Grosso State, Brazil. 

For the experts: The genus Hisonotus was resurrected as a member of the tribe Otothyrini (actually subfamily Otothyrinae). However, phylogenetic studies based on morphological and molecular data showed that Hisonotus is not monophyletic and independent lineages can be identified, such as the group composed of the species H. insperatus, H. luteofrenatus, H. oliveirai, H. paresi and H. piracanjuba, a lineage unrelated to that containing the type species of the genus Hisonotus (H. notatus). Herein, based in molecular and morphological data, a new genus is described to accommodate the lineage mentioned above, into which are also added three new species. This new genus can be distinguished from other genera of Otothyrinae by the following combination of characters: (1) a pair of rostral plates at the tip of the snout; (2) two large pre-nasal plates just posterior to the rostral plates; (3) a supra-opercular plate that receives the laterosensory canal from the compound pterotic before the preopercle; (4) a well developed membrane at anal opening in females; and (5) a V-shaped spinelet. A key to species of Curculionichthys is provided.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A new litter frog: Leptolalax isos

Litter frogs are a large family of frogs native to the warm southeast of Asia. The group contains at least 180 species. Litter frogs are notable for their camouflage, especially those that live in forests, which often look like dead leaves, hence the name litter frog referring to leaf litter. The camouflage is accurate to the point of some having skin folds that look like leaf veins, and at least one species, the long-nosed horned frog (Megophrys montana) has sharp projections extending past the eye and nose, which disguise its frog shape.

The genus Leptolalax is widely distributed in southeastern and eastern Asia and comprises of typically small frogs with a cryptic colour pattern and no obvious morphological characters. The new species was found on the Kon Tum Plateau of Vietnam and adjacent Cambodia. Its name was derived from the Greek word isos, meaning equal or like, in reference to the similarity of the
new species to another congener Leptolalax firthi.

For the experts: We describe a new, medium-sized Leptolalax species from the Kon Tum Plateau of Vietnam and adjacent Cambodia. Leptolalax isos sp. nov. is distinguished from its congeners by a combination of an absence of distinct dark brown/black dorsolateral markings; toes with rudimentary webbing, wide lateral dermal fringes in males and weak or absent lateral dermal fringes in females; most males with wide lateral dermal fringes on Finger II, a body size of 23.7–27.9 mm in 38 adult males and 28.6–31.5 mm in 9 adult females, near immaculate white chest and belly; absence of white speckling on the dorsum; and a call consisting of 2–3 notes with a dominant frequency of 5.9–6.2 kHz (at 22.4–22.8º C). Uncorrected sequence divergences between L. isos sp. nov. and all homologous 16S rRNA sequences available are >10%. At present, the new species is known from montane evergreen forest between ~650–1100 m elevation in northeastern Cambodia and central Vietnam. Habitat within the range of the new species is threatened by deforestation and upstream hydroelectric dams.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A new squat lobster: Galathea ryuguu

Squat lobsters are often very colourful and have attracted the attention of pirates, explorers and naturalists ever since the first global exploration voyages in the early 15th century. They are characterized by having a compressed and elongated head and thorax covered by a rigid exoskeleton, an abdomen tucked under the thorax and a large and elongated pair of front claws.

As well as being used for human consumption, there is demand for squat lobster meat as feed in fish, shrimp or prawn farms. This is in part because they contain astaxanthin, a pigment that helps to colour the meat of farmed salmon and trout.

Galathea is one of the largest genera of squat lobsters comprising of 70 species. The name of the newest member is derived from the Japanese “Ryuguu” (Sea God’s Palace), in reference to the vivid colors of the new species and its host sea fan both representing an image of secret beauty in the sea. 

For the experts: A new shallow-water squat lobster, Galathea ryuguu, is described on the basis of material obtained from a colony of unidentified sea fan of the genus Muricella Verrill, 1868. The new species is most closely allied to G. squamea Baba, 1979, but is distinguished by the ornamentation and armature of the carapace, third maxilliped, and ambulatory legs. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A new blind cusk eel: Paraphyonus iselini

Blind cusk eels are small fishes, typically not longer than 10 cm long when fully grown. They have transparent, gelatinous skin, and no scales.  Many species show a number of features as adults that are more commonly associated with fish larvae, e.g. the skeleton is only partially calcified, and the muscles and gills are underdeveloped. The eyes, nasal organ, and lateral line are also reduced, and they lack a swim bladder. They are deep-sea fishes, living between 2,000 m and 6,000 m depth.

The new species which also belongs to a newly desribed genus was named after the R/V Columbus Iselin from which a number of these deep sea inhabitants have been caught.

For the experts: The cosmopolitan, deep sea, aphyonid genus Aphyonus is known from less than 100 specimens. The type species A. gelatinosus Günther, 1878 and three additional valid species, A. brevidorsalis Nielsen, 1969, A. bolini Nielsen, 1974, and A. rassi Nielsen, 1975 were all based on single specimens. Since then several specimens have been caught of which 52 are examined for the present revision. Most of the specimens are referred to A. gelatinosus but also to A. bolini and A. rassi. A result of the enlarged material is that the type species, A. gelatinosus, is found to differ so much from the remaining species that a new genus, Paraphyonus, is established for these species. Furthermore two new species of Paraphyonus are here described, P. iselini based on six specimens from the tropical northwestern Atlantic Ocean and P. merretti based on three specimens from the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. The present knowledge of the variation of the Paraphyonus species makes it relevant to transfer Barathronus solomonensis Nielsen & Møller, 2008 to this genus.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A new gecko: Dixonius taoi

Many geckos love to be around humans. Humans, though, are divided in their attitude toward being around geckos.  Some find these little guys endearing, cute, and entertaining  (I clearly belong to this group) while others find them repulsive, disgusting and scary.

The tails of geckos will fall off if they are attacked by a bird, cat, or irate human.  This is a defensive maneuver meant to distract the predator with a wriggling tidbit while the gecko escapes.  The tails seem to be detachable in different lengths, and although they grow back in a month or two, there is always a faint line at the detachment location.  The regrowth pattern is a characteristic used for individual identification.

The new species from Vietnam was named in honor of a colleague and friend of the authors of the study. Dr. Nguyen Thien Tao from the Vietnam National Museum of Nature in Hanoi is recognized for his scientific contributions towards a better understanding of the herpetofauna of Vietnam.

For the experts: We describe a new species of Dixonius on the basis of five specimens from Phu Quy Island, Binh Thuan Province, in southern Vietnam. The new species can be distinguished from congeners based on molecular and morphological differences. Diagnostic features are: small size (SVL up to 44 mm); 7 or 8 supralabials; 11 or 12 rows of keeled tubercles on dorsum; 21–23 ventral scale rows; 5 or 6 precloacal pores in males; a canthal stripe running from rostrum through the eye and terminating behind the head; second pair of postmentals about one third to one half size of first pair; ground color of dorsum brown, with one or two rows of light yellow or orange spots in one or two rows along flanks, and irregular bands or a reticulated network of dark marks on dorsum. This is the fifth species of Dixonius known to occur in Vietnam.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A new scarab: Cheleion jendeki

The family Scarabaeideae is a large and diverse group of beetles with about 35000 species worldwide. They range in size from diminutive to truly massive (for a beetle). The family includes the Goliath beetle from Africa (Goliathus goliathus), known as one of the heaviest insects (up to 100 g). It also includes the elephant beetle (Megasoma elephas) and hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules), both from the American tropics, that are known for their large size (up to 16cm for the hercules beetle) and highly developed horns in the males. 

Today's species belongs to a rather small group of Scarab beetles. All representatives of the group are allegedly associated with termite nests although reasons for this are not known. The new species was named after the collector of the holotype, a beetle expert from Ottawa (Eduard Jendek).

For the experts: A new species of the genus Cheleion Vårdal & Forshage, 2010, Cheleion jendeki sp. n., from Johor, Malaysia is described, illustrated and compared with the type species of the genus, C. malayanum Vårdal & Forshage, 2010. Photographs of the two species are presented. The adaptation to inquilinous lifestyle of Cheleion is compared with those in other beetle groups and briefly discussed.

Friday, November 6, 2015

A new freshwater sponge: Heteromeyenia barlettai

With about 260 species, freshwater sponges represent only about 3% of the diversity of all the sponges. Freshwater sponges grow on sturdy submerged objects in clean streams, lakes, and rivers. Because they are sensitive to water conditions, their presence indicates high water quality and low levels of pollutants. As all sponges they are filter feeders. They obtain food from the flow of water through their bodies and from symbiotic algae. 

The new species was actually discovered in a 200 liter aquarium in São Paulo, Brazil. It was named to honor Fernando Barletta, the owner of the aquarium whose curiosity permitted the discovery of the new species.

For the experts: A new species of freshwater sponge, Heteromeyenia barlettai sp. nov., is proposed here based on specimens discovered in a private aquarium in São Paulo, Brazil, and most likely inadvertently collected from the Paraná Basin. The present study also presents a redescription of H. insignis on the basis of the specimen reported upon by Volkmer (1963), collected from the Atlântico Sul Hydrographic Basin. Spicule measurements (n=30) were made for comparison with other Heteromeyenia species. This is the first time that H. insignis has its complete set of spicules studied under SEM. After comparison with the redescription of the type of H. baileyi, we also find characteristics that justify the maintenance of H. insignis as a valid species. A key to species of Heteromeyenia is provided. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A new catfish: Pareiorhaphis garapia

The suckermouth armored catfish family (Loricariidae) has about 800 known species and is a taxonomically very difficult group. So difficult that a numbering system was invented that helped registering putative new species waiting for a sufficient taxonomic treatment. The system is by no means based on any scientific system. As a result specific L-number (after the family name) classifications do not guarantee discrete species, multiple L numbers have been given to different populations of the same species. To add to the confusion, sometimes a single L-number may actually be used for multiple species. 

This new species occurs in Southern Brazil and was named after the stream where it occurs and the waterfall which marks the known limit of its distribution.

For the experts: Pareiorhaphis garapia, new species, is described based on specimens collected in the headwaters of the Arroio Garapiá, Rio Maquiné basin, a coastal drainage of Rio Grande do Sul State, southern Brazil. The new species is distinguished from all other Pareiorhaphis species in having the nuchal plate covered by thick skin, the exposed posterior process of the cleithrum comparatively narrow, and the last segment of the preopercular ramus of the latero-sensory canal reduced to an ossified tubule. The absence of a dorsal-fin spinelet, the reduced number of plates in the dorsal and mid-dorsal series of lateral plates, and morphometric traits also distinguish the new species from its congeners. The restricted geographic distribution of P. garapia, endemic to a headwater stream of the Rio Maquiné basin, and the syntopic occurrence of P. nudulus are discussed.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A new amphipod: Jesogammarus ikiensis

Amphipods comprise an order of crustacea, which contains mostly marine and freshwater forms. Even though they appear to be quite different from crabs and shrimp, amphipods are considered to be relatively closely related to both groups. As such they are placed in a group called the Peracarida, or "near shrimps." All of the members of this group share a number of characteristics such as the same number of appendages found in each body region, and the general body form. However, the amphipods lack the shell found in crabs and shrimps. Another important difference is that female amphipods have a brood pouch while true crabs and shrimps don't have one.

Amphipods are extremely diverse and therefore it is no surprise that we colleagues have described another new species. The name of this one refers to the type locality (Iki Island) which is currently the only place the new species is found.

For the experts: A new species of anisogammarid amphipod, Jesogammarus (Jesogammarus) ikiensis sp. n., is described from freshwaters in the Iki Island, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan, based on results of morphological and molecular analyses. The new species is distinguished from all members of the genus by the combination of small number of setae on dorsal margins of pleonites 1–3, short and small number of setae on posterior margins of peduncular articles of antennae, mandibular article 1 without setae, well developed posterior lobes of accessory lobes of coxal gills on gnathopod 2 and pereopods 3–5, and pectinate setae on palmar margin of female gnathopod 2. A key to all the species of Jesogammarus is provided.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A new bright-eyed treefrog: Boophis boppa

The vast majority of Madagascar's 305 currently known frogs are endemic to the island. In fact an entire frog family (Mantellidae) is endemic to Madagascar. The genus Boophis belongs to this family. Its species are small, colorful and live in trees. Many species of Boophis have almost translucent skin, allowing bones and internal organs to be observed which has led to the common name skeleton frogs.

This new species was named in honor of Nicholas Jay Pritzker, philanthropist, amateur scientist, committed conservationist, and supporter of Conservation International. The name ‘Boppa’ is an affectionate nickname used by his children and grandchildren. This dedication is courtesy of his youngest son Isaac, who has generously supported amphibian research in Madagascar.

For the experts: We describe a new species of Boophis treefrog from Ranomafana National Park in the southern central east of Madagascar. This region has remarkably high anuran diversity, and along with neighbouring sites, hosts more than 35 Boophis species. Boophis boppa sp. nov. is part of the B. ankaratra sub-clade (herein named the B. ankaratra complex), previously identified within the monophyletic B. albipunctatus species group. It occurs sympatrically with two other species of the complex (B. ankaratra and B. schuboeae). Morphological differentiation of species within the B. ankaratra clade remains elusive, but species are well characterized by distinct advertisement calls, with B. boppa having the longest note duration and inter-note intervals when compared to closely related species. Furthermore, it has moderate differentiation in mitochondrial DNA, with pairwise distances of 1.9–3.7% to all other species in sequences of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA marker. Additional evidence is given by the lack of haplotype sharing with related species for the nuclear exon DNAH-3. All examples of syntopic occurrence in this complex involve species with strongly different advertisement calls, while allopatric species have more similar calls. Such a pattern might result from adaptive call co-evolution but could also be the result of non-adaptive processes. Thorough clarification of the systematics of the B. ankaratra sub-clade is required, and we outline future directions for both bioacoustic and genetic research. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

A new longhorn beetle: Recchia nearnsi

With their large antennae and often very colourful, shiny bodies longhorn beetles are small beauties. Their larvae, however, bore into wood, where they can cause extensive damage to either living trees or untreated lumber. The small to very large beetles are distributed worldwide and we know about 27,000 species to date.

The scientific name of this beetle family, Cerambycidae goes back to a figure of the Greek mythology. After an argument with the Nymphs, the shepherd Cerambos was transformed into a large beetle with horns.

The new species Recchia nearnsi is named after Eugenio H. Nearns for his contributions to our knowledge on the Cerambycidae.

For the experts: Three new species are described: Tropidion birai (Cerambycinae, Neoibidionini) from Bolivia; Chrysoprasis birai (Cerambycinae, Heteropsini) from Panama; and Recchia nearnsi (Lamiinae, Aerenicini) from Bolivia. The new species are included in amended versions of previously published keys to species of each genus.

Friday, October 30, 2015

A new minnow: Pseudophoxinus mehmeti

Pseudophoxinus is a genus of fishes belonging to the family of carps and minnows (Cyprinidae). The genus occurs in the eastern Mediterranean region, in particular in and around Anatolia.

By the way the name minnow was what early English fisherman used to describe small and insignificant fishes.

In a field survey carried out in 2014, a group of researchers from Turkey found a new species living in an isolated drainage in Burdur Province. It was named after the first author's husband, Mehmet Ekmekçi who also contributed to the studies of hydrological description and characterization, and interpretations of drainage networks and watersheds.

For the experts: Pseudophoxinus mehmeti, new cyprinid species from the Alanköy basin in south-western Turkey, is distinguished from all species of Pseudophoxinus in adjacent regions by the combination of the following characters: body slender, its length 1.3–1.5 times its depth; caudal peduncle length 1.6–2.0 times its depth; mouth almost superior, with the tip of the mouthcleft approximately level with the middle of the pupil; snout with a pointed tip, its length markedly greater than eye diameter; lateral line not complete, with 30–50 perforated scales and 48–60+2 scale rows in lateral series; 11½–13½ scale rows between lateral line and dorsal-fin origin, 3½–5½ scale rows between lateral line and anal-fin origin; dorsal-fin with 6½– 7½ branched rays; anal-fin with 6½–7½ branched rays; a distinct black epidermal stripe from eye to caudal-fin base in preserved individuals.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A new lizard: Euspondylus paxcorpus

Lizards of the genus Euspondylus belong to the family Gymnophthalmidae are also known as spectacled lizards. This name has to with their transparent lower eyelids, which allow them to see with closed eyes.

These New World lizards are very diverse in the lowland Amazonian forest and foothills, and the valleys and hillsides of the Andes. Some species reach high elevation in the Andes, such as Proctoporus bolivianus which can be found at 4080 m. Euspondylus paxcorpus was found in Junín Province, Peru at 3341 m.

The species name honors the Peace Corps because the lizards were discovered and collected by a Peace Corps Volunteer during his service in Peru to promote community-based environmental management.

For the experts: The South American gymnophthalmid genus Euspondylus is distributed from Venezuela through Peru, with its highest diversity occurring in Peru. Euspondylus paxcorpus sp. nov. is a new species from Junín, Peru possessing prefrontal scales and represented by 60 specimens. The new species differs from all other species by the combination of four supraoculars with supraocular/supraciliary fusion, 5–7 occipitals, a single palpebral scale, five supralabials and infralabials, quadrangular dorsal scales with low keels arranged in transverse series only, 40–45 in a longitudinal count and 22–28 in a transverse count, 12 rows of ventrals in a transverse count and 23–25 in a longitudinal count, and no sexual dimorphism in coloration. The discovery of E. paxcorpus increases the known number of Euspondylus species to 13. Because the coloration patterns of the specimens were greatly different after preservation in alcohol, caution should be used when identifying Euspondylus species from museum specimens.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A new coffee tree: Sommera cusucoana

During an ecological survey of montane rain forest vegetation in Cusuco National Park in Honduras researchers from Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland discovered a new coffee tree species. Only two individual trees were located, about the same size and within a few feet of each other.

The species belongs to the genus Sommera and is a 10 m high tree with cream-colored flowers and red, cherry-like fruits. Sommera is a small genus comprising 10 species of shrubs or small trees ranging from southwestern Mexico through Central America to South America.

The species name honors the Cusuco National Park in which it was found by the Operation Wallacea Forest Botany team.

For the experts: Sommera cusucoana Lorence, D. Kelly & A. Dietzsch, sp. nov., (Rubiaceae), a new species from Honduras, differs from the other Mesoamerican Sommera species by the combination of large, obovate leaves with long red petioles, glabrous or glabrate intervenal areas, red stipules, lax, sparsely pubescent inflorescences with red axes, flowers with red hypanthium and calyx, long fruiting pedicels, and dark red mature fruits. It is known only from the type locality in Cusuco National Park.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A new blind snake: Anilios fossor

Snakes of the tropical family Typhlopidae are blind and live underground in burrows, and since they have no use for vision, they just have light-detecting black eye spots but no fully developed eyes. Most blind snakes are small, with many species reaching less than 30 cm in length at full size. The largest, known as Schlegel's giant blind snake (Megatyphlops schlegelii) grows to about 90 cm.

Today's new species comes from central Australia and was discovered misidentified in a museum collection. The species name was derived from the Latin fossor, a miner, in allusion to the mining habits of the genus and the type locality, where the numerous garnets in the bed of the Hale River, misidentified as rubies, sparked the Northern Territory's first mining rush.

For the experts: Anilios fossor sp. nov. is described from a single specimen collected in 1989 from Ruby Gap Nature Park, Northern Territory. The species differs from all other Anilios species in the combination of 20 midbody scales, 514 dorsal scales, a rounded, non-angulate snout in lateral and dorsal profile, a nasal cleft contacting the second supralabial and not extending to the head dorsum, and a large round rostral shield in dorsal view. It is unclear whether the paucity of material of this species represents a limited distribution, or poor sampling in a remote, sparsely settled part of the continent. Evidence for the recognition of the Australian typhlopid fauna as a distinct genus Anilios is critically reviewed, and the genus is found to be recognizable only on genetic evidence. Some other recent nomenclatural and taxonomic changes in the Australian typhlopid fauna are considered and rejected. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

A new giant tortoise: Chelonoidis donfaustoi

There are two populations of giant tortoises on the island of Santa Cruz in the center of the Galapagos Archipelago: a large population on the west side in an area known as the "Reserve" and another on the lower eastern slopes around a hill named "Cerro Fatal" Until recently, researchers believed that these populations belonged to the same species of tortoise. New genetic and morphological analyses have now clearly identified the two populations as separate species: the Western Santa Cruz Tortoise (Chelonoidis porteri) and the new Eastern Santa Cruz Tortoise (Chelonoidis donfaustoi).

The new species was named to honor Fausto Llerena Sánchez, known to his friends and colleagues as Don Fausto. Don Fausto dedicated 43 years (1971-2014) to giant tortoise conservation as a park ranger for the Galapagos National Park Directorate. He was the primary caretaker at the Tortoise Breeding and Rearing Center on Santa Cruz, which now bears his name. The restoration of several tortoise populations is due in part to Don Fausto's dedication and efforts. He successfully bred tortoises in Galapagos while many of the best zoos around the world have failed in their efforts to do so

For the experts: The taxonomy of giant Galapagos tortoises (Chelonoidis spp.) is currently based primarily on morphological characters and island of origin. Over the last decade, compelling genetic evidence has accumulated for multiple independent evolutionary lineages, spurring the need for taxonomic revision. On the island of Santa Cruz there is currently a single named species, C. porteri. Recent genetic and morphological studies have shown that, within this taxon, there are two evolutionarily and spatially distinct lineages on the western and eastern sectors of the island, known as the Reserva and Cerro Fatal populations, respectively. Analyses of DNA from natural populations and museum specimens, including the type specimen for C. porteri, confirm the genetic distinctiveness of these two lineages and support elevation of the Cerro Fatal tortoises to the rank of species. In this paper, we identify DNA characters that define this new species, and infer evolutionary relationships relative to other species of Galapagos tortoises.

Friday, October 23, 2015

A new tardigrade: Batillipes acuticauda

Tardigrades are one of nature's smallest animals. They are never more than 1.5 mm long, and can only be seen with a microscope. They are commonly known as water bears. There are 900 known species. Most feed by sucking the juices from moss, lichens and algae.

The species name acuticauda is Latin for “sharp tail”. The new animal was found at the coast of Argentina.

Here a little video about these interesting creatures:

For the experts:  A new species of marine tardigrade, Batillipes acuticauda sp. n., has been found in midlittoral sand sediments collected at Monte Hermoso beach (Buenos Aires province, Argentina). The new species differs from all other members of Batillipedidae by its combination of caudal apparatus, lateral processes and toe patterns. It is the first description of an arthrotardigrade from Argentina.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A new king cricket: Libanasa kilomeni

King crickets are also known as weta and can be found in a variety of environments including alpine, forests, grasslands, shrub lands and urban gardens. The family is widely distributed across southern hemisphere lands including South America, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. They are night active and many are flightless although several flying species exist in Australia. Their diet is diverse, rarely consisting of leaves, and more commonly a combination of other insects, fungi, dead animals, and fruit. An Australian king cricket can overpower and eat the deadly funnel-web spiders.

The new species was found in Tanzania. It was named after the village Kilomeni located beneath Kindoroko forest reserve in the North Pare Mountains.

For the experts: A new species of Libanasa, L. kilomeni, is described. In contrast to L. brachyura, an inhabitant of lowland wet to submontane forest along the Tanzanian coast and part of the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania, this new species is found in montane forest in the North Pare Mountains. L. kilomeni n. sp. is restricted to a small forest reserve and due to forest clearing at lower elevations probably driven to its upper ecological border. Therefore this species is considered endangered and
should be included in the IUCN red list.