Monday, December 12, 2016

A new bee: Triepeolus cecilyae

The family Apidae is the largest group of bees containing at least 5,700 species of the total known 20,000 of them. The family includes some of the most commonly known bees, such as bumblebees and honey bees, but also lesser known stingless bees (also used for honey production), carpenter bees, orchid bees, and cuckoo bees. The latter comprise of some bee species which show so-called kleptoparasitic behaviour which means they are laying their eggs in the nests of other bees, reminiscent of the behavior of cuckoo birds.

Today's new species,  Triepeolus cecilyae, belongs to this group of bees and was found in Chile. It was named after Cecily Bradshaw, a friend and advocate for, and supporter of, bee research who also happened to be a former student of mine in one of my online courses.

For the experts: Triepeolus cecilyae Packer, new species, and Doeringiella mamabee Packer, new species, both from the far north of Chile are described and illustrated. Both are known from single
male specimens despite considerable search effort in the area of their provenance. The former
species is the first of the genus recorded from Chile. A key to the three species of Doeringiella
Holmberg known from Chile is provided. Caupolicana dimidiata Herbst is recorded as a likely
host of D. gigas (Spinola).

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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A new ant: Lenomyrmex hoelldobleri

Image from original publication
Lenomyrmex is a small genus with only six known species. They are rarely collected and occur from Costa Rica to Ecuador. All species have elongated mandibles which suggests that they are specialist predators on an unknown prey. With our newly added species we can't answer that question either but we know who likes to eat these ants as it was discovered in stomach content samples of the dendrobatid frog, Oophaga sylvatica.  The new species was named in honor of the world renowned ant researcher Bert Hölldobler on the occasion of his 80th birthday. 

For the experts: The ant genus Lenomyrmex was recently discovered and described from mid to high elevation rainforests in southern Central and northwestern South America. Lenomyrmex currently consists of six described species, which are only rarely collected. Here, we add a new species, Lenomyrmex hoelldobleri sp. n., which was discovered in a stomach content sample of the dendrobatid frog, Oophaga sylvatica, from northwestern Ecuador. Lenomyrmex hoelldobleri can be distinguished from other species in the genus by the presence of a well-developed petiolar node, whereas in all other species the node of the petiole is ill-defined. In addition to the shape of the petiolar node, L. hoelldobleri can be distinguished from the morphologically similar L. costatus by (i) the presence of the metanotal suture, (ii) the direction of the striae on dorsum of propodeum (concentrically transverse in L. hoelldobleri, longitudinal in L. costatus), (iii) the finely striate dorsum of postpetiole, (iv) its larger size, and (v) distinctly darker coloration. We also describe the gyne of Lenomyrmex foveolatus. This collection record from northwestern Ecuador extends the geographic distribution of L. foveolatus 400 km south from its previous record in Colombia. A revised taxonomic key to the workers and gynes of all described Lenomyrmex species is provided. We discuss the taxonomic relationship of L. hoelldobleri to other species in the genus and its biology based on the limited information that is currently available. Finally, we briefly discuss the feeding ecology of dendrobatid poison frogs in the context of providing a valuable source of rarely collected and cryptic new ant species.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A new stonefly: Neoperla chebalinga

Image from publication
Plecoptera are an order of insects, commonly known as stoneflies. There are approximately 3,500 species found worldwide, except for Antarctica. Almost all species of stoneflies develop as nymphs in clean, moving water and are intolerant of water pollution. Their presence in a stream or still water is therefore a good indicator of excellent water quality. Once hatched from the eggs, stonefly nymphs usually complete their development within a year. Some larger species may spend two to three years as nymphs before crawling out of the water as adults. 

Once they emerge from the water, adult stoneflies will usually spend their lives within close proximity to the water’s edge. Unlike the outstretched wings of dragonflies and damselflies, stoneflies fold their wings neatly against their backs when at rest and are generally not strong fliers.

A new species has been discovered in China and it was named after the area it was found, Chebaling Nature Reserve. 

For the experts: A new species of the Neoperla clymene group (Plecoptera, Perlidae), N. chebalinga sp. n. from Guangdong Province of southern China is described, illustrated, and compared with related taxa. The new species is characterized by the slender aedeagal tube, strongly sclerotized dorsally, and weakly sclerotized ventrally with an upcurved, medial, finger-like membranous lobe. Additionally the aedeagal sac gradually tapers to a blunt apex with a dorsoapical patch of spines. A supplementary description of the female of N. mnong Stark, 1987 from Guangdong Province, China is also given.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A new bee: Anthophora pueblo

Nearly 40 years ago a researcher discovered bees nesting in sandstone at two sites in Utah's San Rafael Desert. He collected samples of the nests and reared the inhabitants to emergence. But his work was stored away and largely untouched until a colleague began examining the samples a few years ago and discovered five new nesting sites ranging from Ancestral Puebloan sandstone cliff dwellings at Colorado's Mesa Verde and natural formations in southern Utah and California's Death Valley.

Our new species goes to great effort to excavate nests in hard sandstone. It is believed that it also uses nearby water for excavation as the hard substrate causes wear of the mandibles.

This species is named for its use of sandstone as a nesting substrate, reminiscent to the skilled use of sandstone by the Ancestral Puebloan people.

For the experts: Humanity has long been fascinated by animals with apparently unfavorable lifestyles. Nesting habits are especially important because they can limit where organisms live, thereby driving population, community, and even ecosystem dynamics. The question arises, then, why bees nest in active termite mounds or on the rim of degassing volcanoes, seemingly preferring such hardship. Here, we present a new bee species that excavates sandstone nests, Anthophora (Anthophoroides) pueblo Orr (described in Supplemental Information, published with this article online), despite the challenges already inherent to desert life. Ultimately, the benefits of nesting in sandstone appear to outweigh the associated costs in this system.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A new butterfly fish: Prognathodes basabei

Credit: Greg McFall / NOAA
Butterfly fish are the glamour fish of the coral reefs. They are colorful, beautiful, and have been very well-studied worldwide. Finding a new species is a rare event. Deep coral reefs at depths of 150 to 500 feet, also known as mesophotic coral ecosystems or "the coral-reef twilight zone," are among the most poorly explored of all marine ecosystems. Deeper than most scuba divers can venture, and shallower than most submersible-based exploration, these reefs represent a new frontier for coral reef research and it was here where the new fish was first observed more than 20 years ago and caught for the first time just recently.

The new fish, Prognathodes basabei, is named after Pete Basabe, a veteran local diver from Kona who, over the years, has assisted with the collection of reef fishes for numerous scientific studies and educational displays. Basabe, an experienced deep diver himself, was instrumental in providing support for the dives that produced the first specimen of the fish that now bears his name.

For the experts: A new species of the butterflyfish genus Prognathodes is described from specimens collected at a depth of 55–61 m off Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. This species has been observed by mixed-gas divers and from submersibles at depths ranging from 45–187 m throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago, with shallower sightings in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and deeper in the Main Hawaiian Islands. It is similar to P. guezei (Maugé and Bauchot 1976) from the western Indian Ocean, and at least one other undescribed species of Prognathodes from Palau, differing from these species in the number of soft dorsal-fin rays, size of head, and body depth. There are also differences in the life color, and a substantial genetic difference from the Palauan species (d » .08 in mtDNA cytochrome oxidase I).

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A new aphid: Yamatochaitophorus yichunensis

Image from original publication
Aphids are tiny soft-bodied insects with usually fairly long antenna. They come in different colours, have small eyes, and sucking mouthparts. They move slowly, and don't jump or hop. They are herbivores that suck plant juices out of the leaves, stems, or roots of plants. The juices they drink often have much more sugar than protein. Aphids have to drink so much sugary juice to be able to build their own protein that they excrete a lot of the sugar as they don't need it. The sugary fluid they excrete is called "honeydew", and many other insects feed on it, e.g. ants. They also protect the aphids, and sometimes even keep them in their nests for the winter and put them on new plants in the spring.

Unfortunately, aphids are also one of the worst groups of pests on plants. They damage plants directly by feeding on them, and they carry plant diseases from plant to plant. There can be millions and millions of aphids in a field which can cause a lot of damage to crops.

A new species of aphid has been found in Northern China feeding on Manchurian striped maple (Acer tegmentosum). The species was named after Yichun City where it was found in a forest garden.

For the experts: Yamatochaitophorus yichunensis sp. n. is described from specimens collected in northeast China on Acer tegmentosum (Aceraceae). Yamatochaitophorus is also a new generic record for China. Type specimens are deposited in the National Zoological Museum of China, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China (NZMC) and the Natural History Museum, London, UK (BMNH).

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A new frog: Pristimantis pulchridormientes

Image from publication
One extraordinarily diverse genus of frogs, Pristimantis, includes 465 recognized species, 131 of them from Peru. The mountainous terrain of the Andes probably led to the evolution of so many different ground-dwelling frogs, in which the eggs develop directly into tiny baby frogs without going through a tadpole phase.

The name of the new species is a composite of two Latin words: pulcher which means beautiful, and dormientes means sleeping. The name is in reference to the chain of mountains located within Tingo María National Park, above the city of Tingo Maria, locally known as Sleeping Beauty (Bella Durmiente), because it looks like a sleeping reclined woman.

For the experts: A new species of Craugastoridae frog encountered from 1000–1700 m in elevation in the premontane forests of the Peruvian central Andes is described. The new species is similar in appearance to many other species of Pristimantis, but is easily distinguishable from these species by having bright red coloration on the groin, posterior surface of thighs, and shanks. The new species is only known for two localities 27 km apart in the Huánuco Region.

Monday, August 15, 2016

A new snake: Geophis lorancai

Geophis lorancai, credit: Miguel Ángel de la Torre Loranca
Colubrid snakes of the genus Geophis comprise 49 currently recognized species widely distributed in Central and South America. These snakes, often called Latin American earth snakes are burrowing snakes which are seldom encountered and, consequently, have been poorly studied. 

The species was named after Biologist Miguel Ángel de la Torre Loranca, who found most of the specimens of the new species in the Sierra de Zongolica.

For the experts: A new species of the Geophis dubius group is described from the mountains of the Sierra Zongolica in west-central Veracruz and the Sierra de Quimixtlán in central-east Puebla. The new species is most similar to G. duellmani and G. turbidus, which are endemic to the mountains of northern Oaxaca and the Sierra Madre Oriental of Puebla and Hidalgo, respectively. However, the new species differs from G. duellmani by the presence of postocular and supraocular scales and from G. turbidus by having a bicolor dorsum. With the description of the new species, the species number in the genus increases to 50 and to 12 in the G. dubius group. Additionally, a key to the species of the G. dubius group is provided.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A new longhorn beetle: Falsoibidion bipunctatum

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.

A new species was discovered in Korea and named after the two black spots on its body. 

For the experts: A new species of the genus Falsoibidion Pic, 1922 (Coleoptera, Cerambycidae, Cerambycinae, Callidiopini) from Korea is described. Habitus and genitalia of male and female of the new species are illustrated.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A new ant: Paratopula bauhinia

(c) The University of Hong Kong
While some might think that new species are only discovered in deep pristine forests, this new ant species was found just a few hundred meters from the campus of  University of Hong Kong during a night field course. The unusually large size of the ant (about 7mm long) and its golden appearance piqued the curiosity of  a research assistant of the School of Biological Sciences, to collect it for further detailed inspection. 

The newly described species has been given the scientific name Paratopula bauhinia, in reference to the Bauhinia flower, symbol of Hong Kong. Indirectly, the name also refers to the arboreal nature of the ant. Indeed, this species seems to live on trees and forage only at dusk and at night where it can be found on lower vegetation and human-made structures. 

For the experts: Despite its relatively large size among the Myrmicinae of the Indomalayan region, collection events of Paratopula Wheeler are rare. Here we discuss the discovery of Paratopula in Hong Kong and present Paratopula bauhinia sp. nov as a new species. This addition brings the number of globally described species for the genus to twelve species, four of which are known only from the reproductive caste. Paratopula bauhinia sp. nov. can be distinguished from previously described species by the combination of the following features: 10 teeth on the masticatory margin of mandibles, apically acute hairs, a rounded median portion of the anterior margin of the pronotum, postpetiole broader than long, and straight, blunt propodeal spines. A revised key for the eight species of Paratopula known from the worker caste is provided. Additionally, the female caste of Rotastruma stenoceps Bolton is described for the first time. The rarity of these two genera are also discussed on the basis of their potentially nocturnal and arboreal habits.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A new water scavenger beetle: Elocomosta lilizheni

The beetle family Hydrophilidae contains about 3000 aquatic species found all over the world. The name water scavenger beetles is not an accurate description of the beetle's habit. Larvae are mostly predatory while the adults may be vegetarians or predators in addition to scavenging.

Some hydrophilid species have been reported as pests in fish hatcheries.Other species are voracious consumers of mosquito larvae, and are therefore considered as potential biological control agents.

The new species was found in China and named after the collector, Dr. Li-zhen Li, an entomologist at Shanghai Normal University.

For the experts: A new species of the genus Elocomosta Hansen, 1989 (Coleoptera: Hydrophilidae: Sphaeridiinae: Coelostomatini), E. lilizheni sp. n., is described from Guangxi Province, China. It is compared in detail with the only other known species of the genus, E. nigra Hansen, 1989 from Borneo, and the genus is diagnosed from the remaining coelostomatine genera. The new species is unusual among Hydrophilidae by having extremely reduced eyes.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Two new ants: Pheidole drogon and Pheidole viserion

Credit: OIST
The ant genus Pheidole is huge containing perhaps more than 1000 species. They are widespread across the globe. Most Pheidole colonies contain two castes of workers: the "minor" workers, and the "major" workers, or "soldiers". The latter generally have enormous heads and mandibles in comparison to their body size.

Both new species appear dragon-like due to their large and distinctive spines and were recently found in the tropical rainforests of Papua New Guinea. Although they lacks fire-breathing capabilities, the unique, spiny characteristics of the ants reminded the scientists who discovered them of the mythical dragons from the fantasy series and inspired them to name the ants after the 'Game of Thrones' dragons.

For the experts: The ant genus Pheidole—for all of its hyperdiversity and global ubiquity—is remarkably conservative with regard to morphological disparity. A striking exception to this constrained morphology is the spinescent morphotype, which has evolved multiple times across distantly related lineages of Indoaustralian Pheidole. The Pheidole cervicornis group contains perhaps the most extraordinary spinescent forms of all Pheidole. Here we present a taxonomic revision of the P. cervicornis group, and use microtomographic scanning technology to investigate the internal anatomy of the thoracic spines. Our findings suggest the pronotal spines of Pheidole majors, are possibly skeletomuscular adaptations for supporting their disproportionately large heads. The ‘head support hypothesis’ is an alternative to the mechanical defense hypothesis most often used to explain spinescence in ants. The P. cervicornis group is known only from New Guinea and is represented by the following four species, including two described here as new: P. barumtaun Donisthorpe, P. drogon sp. nov., P. cervicornis Emery, and P. viserion sp. nov. The group is most readily identified by the minor worker caste, which has extremely long pronotal spines and strongly bifurcating propodeal spines. The major and minor workers of all species are illustrated with specimen photographs, with the exception of the major worker of P. cervicornis, which is not known.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A new nudibranch: Doto carinova

Nudibranchs from the genus Doto are found in all of the world's oceans and are gastropod molluscs that feed on hydroids and cnidarians. Some of the nudibranchs that feed on hydroids can store the hydroids' stinging cells in their body wall. These stolen cells wander through the alimentary tract without harming the nudibranch. Once further into the organ, the cells are assimilated and brought to specific placements on the creature's hind body where they are used for defense.

The new species was captured at 277 m under the Weddell sea, its name is derived from the Latin words carina (= keel) and ova (= eggs), referring to a pronounced keel observed in the egg mass of the animal.

For the experts: Although several studies are devoted to determining the diversity of Antarctic heterobranch sea slugs, new species are still being discovered. Among nudibranchs, Doto antarctica Eliot, 1907 is the single species of this genus described from Antarctica hitherto, the type locality being the Ross Sea. Doto antarctica was described mainly using external features. During our Antarctic research on marine benthic invertebrates, we found D. antarctica in the Weddell Sea and Bouvet Island, suggesting a circumpolar distribution. Species affiliation is herein supported by molecular analyses using cytochrome c oxidase subunit I, 16S rRNA, and histone H3 markers. We redescribe D. antarctica using histology, micro-computed tomography (micro-CT), and 3D-reconstruction of the internal organs. Moreover, we describe a new, sympatric species, namely D. carinova Moles, Avila & Wägele n. sp., and provide an anatomical comparison between the two Antarctic Doto species. Egg masses in both species are also described here for the first time. We demonstrate that micro-CT is a useful tool for non-destructive anatomical description of valuable specimens. Furthermore, our high resolution micro-CT data reveal that the central nervous system of both Doto species possesses numerous accessory giant cells, suggested to be neurons herein. In addition, the phylogenetic tree of all Doto species sequenced to date suggests a scenario for the evolution of the reproductive system in this genus: bursa copulatrix seems to have been reduced and the acquisition of a distal connection of the oviduct to the nidamental glands is a synapomorphy of the Antarctic Doto species. Overall, the combination of thorough morphological and anatomical description and molecular analyses provides a comprehensive means to characterize and delineate species, thus suggesting evolutionary scenarios.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A new zoantharian: Sphenopus exilis

Credit: Takuma Fujii
Zoantharians are colonial cnidarians commonly found in a variety of marine environments. Many of them live in the shallow waters of the subtropical and tropical regions, where their large colonies can be found on coral reefs.

There are very solitary zoantharian species. Only three species are described, all reported more than 100 years ago from the Indo-Pacific region. Today's species, named Sphenopus exilis, is much smaller than the other three species and currently only known from two bays on the east coast of Okinawa Island. Its name was derived from the latin word exilis meaning slender or small, as polyps have an elongate and narrow foot.

For the experts: A new species of free-living solitary zoantharian is described from Okinawa, Japan. Sphenopus exilis sp. n. occurs on silty seafloors in Kin Bay and Oura Bay on the east coast of Okinawa-jima Island. Sphenopus exilis sp. n. is easily distinguished from other Sphenopus species by its small polyp size and slender shape, although there were relatively few differences between Sphenopus exilis sp. n. and S. marsupialis in the molecular phylogenetic analyses. Currently, very little is known about the ecology and diversity of Sphenopus species. Thus, reviewing each species carefully via combined morphological and molecular analyses by using newly obtained specimens from type localities is required to clearly understand and distinguish the species within the genus Sphenopus.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A new dragon lizard: Sitana marudhamneydhal

The ten species of fan-throated lizards of the genus Sitana are only found in India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. These are rather beautiful little guys most often not larger than 20cm. Most of the species open ground patches.

The new species was named for its occurrence in the grassy plains as well as the seashore in Tamil Nadu, India. The name is a combination of two ancient Tamil words (Marudham = cultivable grasslands, Neydhal = land by the seashore). 

For the experts: A new species of Sitana to the ponticeriana group is described herein from southern Tamil Nadu, India. Sitana marudhamneydhal sp.nov. is most similar to Sitana visiri, from which it differs in body scalation and dewlap size. Much like Sitana visiri, the breeding of this species coincides with the North-East monsoon rains (October to December), an adaptation related to its geographic location which receives higher rainfall during the North-East monsoon than the South-West monsoon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A new leptostraca: Nebalia terazakii

Illustration from original publication

Leptostraca is an order of small, marine crustaceans which is believed to be the most primitive group of  its class, the Malacostraca as some species first appear in the fossil record during the Cambrian period. These crustaceans are unique in having their carapace compressed to such an extent that it forms a mussel-like shell held together by a strong adductor muscle. The new representative was found during a study on the biodiversity of the marine invertebrate fauna around Malaysia.

The new species was named after the late Professor Dr. Makoto Terazaki, from the University of Tokyo.

For the experts: A new species of Leptostraca, Nebalia terazakii sp. n. is described and figured. The species was sampled from the coral reefs of Pulau Payar Marine Park, Langkawi, Malaysia. There are 32 existing species of Nebalia but Nebalia terazakii sp. n. can be distinguished from the other known species of Nebalia by the following combination of characters: the rostrum is 1.89 times as long as wide and the eyes have no dorsal papilla or lobes. Article 4 of the antennular peduncle has one short thick distal spine. The proximal article of the endopod of maxilla 2 is shorter than the distal, a feature peculiar to Nebalia terazakii sp. n., the exopod of maxilla 2 is longer than article 1 of the endopod, the posterior dorsal borders of the pleonites 6 to 7 are provided with distally sharp denticles, anal plate with prominent lateral shoulder and finally, the terminal seta of the caudal rami is 1.17 times the length of the entire rami.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A new orchid: Bulbophyllum pingnanense

Image from original publication
The genus Bulbophyllum is one of the largest among the orchids. In fact, with perhaps 2000 species it is one of the largest genera of flowering plants. For over a century this genus has been the focus of orchid collectors especially for some bizarre representatives.

This genus covers a huge range of forms, from tall plants with cane-like stems, to root climbers that wind or creep their way up tree trunks. Other members grow on other plants, and quite a number that have developed succulent foliage to a greater or lesser degree. Some species live on rocks and one species has almost become leafless and uses its pseudobulbs as the organs of photosynthesis.

Our new species is also growing on other plants and its name refers to the region in which it was found (Pingnan County).

For the experts: A new orchid species, Bulbophyllum pingnanense, is described and illustrated from Fujian, China. It is similar to B. brevipedunculatum and B. albociliatum in vegetative and floral morphology, but it can be distinguished from B. brevipedunculatum by having a longer dorsal sepal with longer white ciliate on margin, longer and lanceolate lateral sepals, and a glabrous lip. It can be distinguished from B. albociliatum by having a shorter inflorescence, and a longer dorsal sepal.

h/t Phytokeys

Friday, July 15, 2016

A new ant: Myrmica latra

Socially parasitic ants use the nests and workforce of other ant species to raise their own offspring. The queens of social parasites need to get inside the nests of other ants, where they will lay eggs which are reared by the workers of their host. 

The ant genus Myrmica consists of about 200 species widespread throughout the temperate regions of the Holarctic and high mountains in Southeast Asia. Some Myrmica species are known parasitic ants and so is today's new species, named after the Latin adjective for robber or thief.

For the experts: A new socially-parasitic species, Myrmica latra sp. n. is described based on a queen and male from Indian Himalaya. Its queen differs from other species by the distinctly narrower petiole and postpetiole, blunt and non-divergent propodeal spines, and a darker body colour. The taxonomic position of the three known Himalayan socially-parasitic Myrmica species is discussed, and M. ereptrix Bolton 1988 is transferred to the smythiesii species-group. It is supposed that M. nefaria Bharti 2012 is a temporary social parasite, but M. ereptrix and M. latra sp. n. are permanent social parasites, and a key for their identification is provided.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A new seasnail: Atlanta ariejansseni

from the original publication
The sea snail family Atlantidae comprises of planaktonic species with a microscopic body size (shell diameter of less than 1 cm). The foot of the snail has evolved into a muscular swimming fin allowing them to move in the open water. 

The snail was found in the Southern Ocean and named after Arie Janssen, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Netherlands, in recognition of his commitment and longstanding contributions to holoplanktonic gastropod research.

For the experts: The Atlantidae (shelled heteropods) is a family of microscopic aragonite shelled holoplanktonic gastropods with a wide biogeographical distribution in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate waters. The aragonite shell and surface ocean habitat of the atlantids makes them particularly susceptible to ocean acidification and ocean warming, and atlantids are likely to be useful indicators of these changes. However, we still lack fundamental information on their taxonomy and biogeography, which is essential for monitoring the effects of a changing ocean. Integrated morphological and molecular approaches to taxonomy have been employed to improve the assessment of species boundaries, which give a more accurate picture of species distributions. Here a new species of atlantid heteropod is described based on shell morphology, DNA barcoding of the Cytochrome Oxidase I gene, and biogeography. All specimens of Atlanta ariejansseni sp. n. were collected from the Southern Subtropical Convergence Zone of the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific oceans suggesting that this species has a very narrow latitudinal distribution (37–48°S). Atlanta ariejansseni sp. n. was found to be relatively abundant (up to 2.3 specimens per 1000 m3 water) within this narrow latitudinal range, implying that this species has adapted to the specific conditions of the Southern Subtropical Convergence Zone and has a high tolerance to the varying ocean parameters in this region.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Two new bamboo worms: Paramaldane glandicincta and Maldane adunca

Credit: Yueyun Wang
Bamboo worms belong to the family Maldanidae which is part of the bristle worms. Their elongated segments, ending with an appendage give them the appearance of bamboo-shoots, hence their name. These often fragile marine inhabitants can be found in mud-walled tubes in shelf sediments.

The new species were found during re-examination of specimens collected from mud sediment in the offshore waters of Hainan Island (South China Sea) between 1959 to 1962. Both new names refer to specific characteristics of the body of the animals.

For the experts: Paramaldane, new genus, with type species Paramaldane glandicincta sp. n., and Maldane adunca sp. n. (Maldanidae, Polychaeta) are described based on material from the coast of south China. The new genus Paramaldane is similar to Maldane Grube, 1860 and Sabaco Kinberg, 1867, but it clearly differs from all genera within the subfamily Maldaninae by a unique combination of characters: the cephalic plate is almost circular with low, entire and smooth cephalic rim, nuchal grooves small and crescentic, lacking a collar on chaetiger 1, short companion notochaetae, a collar-like glandular band on the anterior part of the sixth chaetiger, and a well-developed anal valve. Paramaldane glandicincta sp. n. is characterised by having a glandular band on the anterior part of the sixth chaetiger, an almost circular cephalic plate, an entire and smooth cephalic rim, and small crescentic nuchal grooves. Maldane adunca sp. n. is characterised by a low cephalic rim, nuchal grooves with a strongly curved anterior part and isolated from the cephalic rim. Finally, a taxonomic key to genera of Maldaninae and a comparative table to species of Maldane are provided.

Friday, July 8, 2016

A new midge: Metapelopia peruensis

Chironomidae is a large family of flies whose members look much like mosquitoes. However, they do not possess the needle-like mouthparts of mosquitoes, so these midges do not bite (hence the name!). The males are easily recognized by their feathery (plumose) antennae and are often seen in large swarms over a landmark such as a rock or bush. Their larvae are very common in many aquatic environments, where they usually feed on algae or decomposing plant material. The flying adults have a short lifespan in which males often assemble into huge swarms. Females join these swarms to mate, and shortly after the males die. The adults rarely eat as their lifespan is so short they must focus on reproduction. 

The family Chironomidae is very diverse with over 8000 named species so far. As a result they are common in aquatic habitats around the world. The new species was discovered in Peru and named after its country of origin. 

For the experts: A new species of the monotypic genus Metapelopia is described and illustrated based on all life stages. Adults of the Metapelopia peruensis sp. n. can be easily distinguished from those of M. corbii by the color pattern of the legs and abdomen. Larvae and pupae were collected associated with algae accumulated on rocks.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A new plant bug: Psallops niedzwiedzkii

Image from original publication
With about 10000 species the family Miridae is the largest of the true bugs. There is a number of common names for members of this group, such as capsid bugs, mirid bugs, plant bugs, leaf bugs, or grass bugs. A good number of widely known species are notorious agricultural pests that pierce plant tissues, feed on the sap, and sometimes transmit viral plant diseases. Other species however, are predatory.

Today's new species was found in a forest in Ghana and named in honour of a friend of the authors.

For the experts: A new species from Ghana, Psallops niedzwiedzkii Herczek & Popov, sp. n. is described. The dorsal habitus, head and male genitalia are presented and some morphological features are discussed. A key, short descriptions and map of the distribution of the African species of the genus are also provided.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A new weevil: Evemphyron sinense

Credit: Dr Zhiliang Wang; CC-BY 4.0
Weevils are one of the most diverse insect groups. Over 60,000 species are currently known to science. They can be recognized by elbowed antennae and many of them have a prolonged snout. At the tip of this snout is their mouth. Depending on the species, weevils range in size from about 3 mm to over 10 mm in length. They are usually dark-colored—brownish to black. Some have scales or shiny hairs covering part of their bodies.

Nearly all known weevils are vegetarians both as larva and adults. Hardly any plant is not affected by at least one species of weevil. Females of the leaf-roller weevils also cut a hardwood leaf and roll it, laying one egg inside each one. Our new species belongs to such a group but here the females cut shoots to lay their eggs. This rather confusing detail led to the description of a new genus with a name based on the classical Greek expression for confusion (emphyros). The species name refers to the country of origin, China.

For the experts: A new genus Evemphyron Alonso-Zarazaga, Lv & Wang, gen. n., belonging to Attelabidae Rhynchitinae, is described. Its single species, Evemphyron sinense Alonso-Zarazaga, Lv & Wang, sp. n., was reared from larvae found inside seed pods of the legume Callerya dielsiana (Fabaceae, Millettieae) in Sichuan Province (China). The species is figured and placed in the Deporaini because of the presence of minute labial palpi, the strongly crescentic apex of the postmentum, and the apodemes of male IX sternite and female VIII sternite curved sinistro-anterially near their cephalic end. It shows 3-segmented labial palpi and male sex patches on the procoxae, characters that suggest a basal position in the tribe.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A new sleeper goby: Caecieleotris morrisi

Sleeper gobies (Eleotridae) are found predominantly in the tropical Indo-Pacific. About 180 species are known and many pass through a planktonic stage in the sea. Some spend their entire lives in the sea but the majority of the adults live in freshwater streams and brackish waters. A few species are troglobitic which means they live in caves all their life.

Our new species, the Oaxaca Cave Sleeper, is one of them and well adapted to the cave environment. It does not have eyes or pigment, but it has a shovel-shaped head and well-developed sensory papillae, which contain its taste buds. It has not been collected or seen in more than 20 years and lives in a cave system threatened by damming.

The species was named after Thomas L. Morris, the discoverer and collector of this new fish. He is a renowned cave diver and speleobiologist, and respected conservationist devoted to the protection of karst habitats.

For the experts: Caecieleotris morrisi, new genus and species of sleeper (family Eleotridae), is described from a submerged freshwater cave in a karst region of the northern portion of the State of Oaxaca, Mexico, Río Papaloapan drainage, Gulf of Mexico basin. The new species represents the first cave-adapted sleeper known from the Western Hemisphere and is one of only 13 stygobitic gobiiforms known worldwide, with all others limited in distribution to the Indo-Pacific region. The new taxon represents a third independent evolution of a hypogean lifestyle in sleepers, the others being two species of Oxyeleotris (O. caeca and O. colasi) from New Guinea and a single species, Bostrychus microphthalmus, from Sulawesi. Caecieleotris morrisi, new species, is distinguished from epigean eleotrids of the Western Atlantic in lacking functional eyes and body pigmentation, as well as having other troglomorphic features. It shares convergent aspects of morphology with cave-dwelling species of Oxyeleotris and B. microphthalmus but differs from those taxa in lacking cephalic pores and head squamation, among other characters. Description of C. morrisi, new species, brings the total number of eleotrid species known from Mexico to 12. Seven of these, including the new species, occur on the Atlantic Slope.

Monday, July 4, 2016

A new planthopper: Iuiuia caeca

Credit: Rodrigo Ferreira; CC-BY 4.0
Planthoppers are insect of the infraorder Fulgoromorpha, which consists of some 12,500 described species worldwide. The name comes from their resemblance to leaves and other plant parts and from the fact that they often jump for quick transportation in a similar way to that of grasshoppers.

This new planthopper species is only the second dwelling exclusively in the subterranean depths of Brazil from its family. Surviving without seeing the light of the day at any point of its life, this species has neither the eyes, nor the vivid colouration, nor the functional wings typical for its relatives.

The planthopper is called Iuiuia caeca, with the genus name (Iuiuia) referring to the locality, where it was found, and its species name (caeca) translating to 'blind' in Latin.

For the experts: A new obligate cavernicolous (troglobitic) species in the planthopper family Kinnaridae is described from Brazil, and a new genus is established, as it could not be placed in any of the existing genera. Information on distribution and ecology is given. This is the second record of a troglobitic representative of this family from Brazil, and only the 6th cavernicolous kinnarid species worldwide.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A new yellow sac spider: Cheiracanthium ilicis

Image from original publication
Cheiracanthium is a genus of spiders also commonly known as yellow sac spiders. As it happens some Cheiracanthium species are attracted to the smell of petroleum. The animals caused problems by weaving webs inside the canister vent of particular models of Mazda vehicles, resulting in blockages and build-up of pressure that could potentially cause fuel leakage. Mazda therefore issued a recall of Mazda 6 models to fit them with software which would alert drivers if problems were developing.

Our new species was found in the Toledo region in Spain.Most of the individuals of this novel species were collected from Holm oaks. The Latin name of this oak species (Quercus ilex) has been thus used to name this spider so as to link it to the main habitat it occupies.

For the experts: We describe a novel species Cheiracanthium ilicis sp. n. (Araneae, Eutichuridae) collected in the province of Toledo (Central Spain). It was found during a systematic sampling campaign carried out in an agricultural landscape with isolated Holm oaks Quercus ilex and small forest patches. Its morphology and affinities with other species of the genus are discussed. Furthermore, one mitochondrial gene was sequenced to confirm species membership and its differentiation from other Cheiracanthium species. The molecular phylogenies based on mitochondrial and nuclear genes showed a close relationship of C. ilicis sp. n. with C. inclusum and C. mildei, with which it also shares morphological similarities. Nonetheless, the sparse sampling of the phylogeny, due to the low number of sequences available, impedes drawing any definitive conclusion about these relationships; it is first necessary to perform an extensive review of the genus worldwide and more thorough phylogenies. C. ilicis sp. n. also shares certain ecological and phenological characteristics with C. inclusum and C. mildei. Like them, C. ilicis sp. n. is an obligate tree dweller that prefers a tree canopy habitat and reproduces primarily in late spring and summer. From a conservation perspective, the present study suggests the need to preserve isolated trees in agricultural landscapes. They are not only the refuge of common forest organisms but also of novel species yet to be discovered.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A new whip spider: Charinus taboa

Image from original publication
The chelicerate arthropods of the order Amblypygi are known as whip spiders or tailless whip scorpions. They are harmless animals with no silk glands or venomous fangs. They can bite if threatened, but more likely grab a finger with their pedipalps, resulting in little thorn-like injuries.

Some species can grow to a legspan of 70 cm. They have eight legs, but only six are used for walking, often in a crab-like, sideways fashion. The front leg pair was modified for use as antennae-like feelers, with many fine segments giving the appearance of a whip, hence their name.

The new species was found in caves in Brazil and was named after one of them (Taboa).

For the experts: Charinus taboa sp. n. comprises the twenty-second species of the genus described for Brazil. The new species belongs to the eastern Brazilian group, in which all species have sucker-like gonopods. Charinus taboa sp. n. has a marked sexual dimorphism in the pedipalps as do other members of the genus in the country. The description of Charinus taboa sp. n. offers an opportunity to discuss some aspects of ecology, troglomorphism and conservation within the genus. A key to the eastern Brazilian species of Charinus is provided.

Monday, June 20, 2016

A new lizard: Anolis landestoyi

Photo by Miguel Landestoyi
Well-studied ecologically, Greater Antillean anoles are a textbook example of a phenomenon known as replicated adaptive radiation, where related species evolving on different islands diversify into similar sets of species that occupy the same ecological niches. Although most Greater Antillean anoles may have a matching counterpart on another island, scientists have long known that a sizeable fraction do not. About one fifth of the region's anole species are 'exceptions to the rule' so far.

Most noticeable among these unique lizards are Cuban anoles from the Chamaeleolis group. Chamaeleolis anoles look less like typical anoles and more like chameleons: large, cryptic, slow-moving, and prone to clinging to lichen-covered branches high in forest canopies. Scientists believed there was nothing like these Cuban lizards on the other Greater Antillean islands.

However, Anolis landestoyi was found in the Dominican Republic by anaturalist who first spotted and photographed it. The species was named after him (Miguel Landestoyi).

For the experts: We report a new chameleon-like Anolis species from Hispaniola that is ecomorphologically similar to congeners found only on Cuba. Lizards from both clades possess short limbs and a short tail and utilize relatively narrow perches, leading us to recognize a novel example of ecomorphological matching among islands in the well-known Greater Antillean anole radiation. This discovery supports the hypothesis that the assembly of island faunas can be substantially deterministic and highlights the continued potential for basic discovery to reveal new insights in well-studied groups. Restricted to a threatened band of midelevation transitional forest near the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, this new species appears to be highly endangered.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A new burrower bug: Amnestus mendeli

Not much is known about members of the true bug family Cynidae or burrower bugs. As their names indicates they are burrowing through the soil and their legs are well adapted for the digging. The legs of most Cydnidae are armed with strong spines and in some species both head and legs may also be flattened. Their diet includes the roots of plants, stems or seeds that have fallen upon the ground.

Burrower bugs are not regarded as significant pests. Only 27 of the 750 species have been reported as crop pests, six of them are thought to feed on peanut. The new species, collected on Ascension Island, was named after its collector, Howard Mendel.

For the experts: A new species of the genus Amnestus Dallas, 1851, Amnestus mendeli, is described from the cloud zone of Green Mountain, Ascension Island, and compared with its closest relatives, the Brazilian Amnestus lenkoi Froeschner, 1975 and Amnestus pequinus Froeschner, 1975. It is the first representative of the family Cydnidae recorded on the island thus far. The species is presumed to be an introduction from the Americas, but the hypothesis that it might be endemic to Ascension Island is also not excluded.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A new plasterer bee: Goniocolletes wanni

Image from original publication
Plasterer bees or polyester bees smooth the walls of their nest cells with secretions applied through their mouthparts. These secretions dry into a cellophane-like lining. Over 50% of all bee species living in Australia belong to this family (Colletidae).

Not surprisingly the new species was found in Southern Australia. The species is named after Stan Wann, the grandfather of the co-collector, Beth Tully. Stan Wann grew up in the bush on the north coast of New South Wales, and had a profound knowledge of the birds and trees in the area.

For the experts: Goniocolletes comatus Maynard, 2013 is redescribed. G. wanni sp. n. and the male of Trichocolletes luteorufus Batley & Houston, 2012 are described.

Friday, June 10, 2016

A new anglerfish: Oneirodes amaokai

Deep sea anglerfishes are among the most bizarre-looking fish in the sea. There are about 200 species of anglerfish found throughout the world's oceans. The name of these fishes comes from the elongated dorsal spine that supports a light-producing organ known as a photophore. Through bioluminescence, this photophore can produce a blue-green light. The fish uses this appendage like a fishing lure, waving it back and forth to attract its prey (in case you didn't know that already - time to watch Finding Nemo). 

Our new species is one of three newly described species found in Indonesian waters. It was named after Dr. Kunio Amaoka, Professor Emeritus of Hokkaido University, to honour his contributions to ichthyology. 

For the experts: An examination of the ceratioid anglerfishes collected on the Indian Ocean side of Indonesia during surveys in 2004–2005 have revealed 18 species in 9 genera and 6 families, including three new species: Cryptopsaras couesii (Ceratiidae); Melanocetus johnsonii (Melanocetidae); Diceratias trilobus, Bufoceratias microcephalus sp. nov., B. thele, B. shaoi, B. cf. wedli (Diceratiidae); Himantolophus danae, H. sagamius, H. nigricornis, H. macroceratoides (Himantolophidae); Oneirodes quadrinema sp. nov., O. amaokai sp. nov., O. carlsbergi, O. cristatus, Dermatias platynogaster, Chaenophryne cf. melanorhabdus (Oneirodidae); and Linophryne parini (Linophrynidae). Of these, specimens of B. shaoi, H. macroceratoides, O. cristatus and L. parini represent the second records since the species were described. A specimen of H. nigricornis represents the third record and a specimen of Dermatias platynogaster represents the fourth record. Descriptive data and notes on the geographical distribution and morphological variation are provided for each species.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A new goby: Varicus lacerta

Photo by Barry Brown from original publication.
Marine biodiversity inhabiting shallow Caribbean coral reefs has been studied for more than 150 years, but much less is known about what lives at depths just below those accessible with conventional SCUBA gear. Thanks to the availability of a privately owned, manned submersible on the island of Curacao, the Curasub, scientists are able to intensively study depths to 300 m.

Researchers from the Smithsonian Institution have yet described another new goby fish from the region. Its name means lizard in Latin and refers to the reptilian appearance of the fish. It has a disproportionately large head and multiple rows of canine teeth in each of its jaws. For that reason the common name will be Godzilla goby.

For the experts: We describe a new species of goby, Varicus lacerta sp. n., which was collected from a mesophotic reef at Curacao, southern Caribbean. The new species is the tenth species of Varicus, all of which occur below traditional SCUBA depths in the wider Caribbean area. Its placement in the genus Varicus is supported by a molecular phylogenetic analysis of three nuclear genes and the mitochondrial gene cytochrome b. In addition, the new species has one anal-fin pterygiophore inserted anterior to the first haemal spine, which distinguishes Varicus species from most species in the closely related and morphologically similar genus Psilotris. Varicus lacerta sp. n. is distinguished from all other named species of Varicus by the absence of scales, having highly branched, feather-like pelvic-fin rays, and in its live coloration. We provide the cytochrome c oxidase I DNA barcode of the holotype and compare color patterns of all species of Varicus and Psilotris for which color photographs or illustrations are available. This study is one of several recent studies demonstrating the utility of manned submersibles in exploring the diversity of poorly studied but species-rich deep-reef habitats.