Friday, January 29, 2016

A new arrowroot: Calathea galdamesiana

The flowering plant family Marantaceae also known as arrowroot family includes species with names such as rattlesnake, zebra or peacock plants. The family consists 627 species, found in the tropical areas of the world except in Australia. The biggest concentration is in the Americas where today's new species was found.

Today's new species belongs to the genus Calathea. Severa species of the genus are very popular as pot plants due to their decorative leaves.

The new species was named after Carmen Galdames, research assistant at the herbarium at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

For the experts just follow the link.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A new praying mantis: Cornucollis masoalensis

Mantises are generalist predators which means that they eat a large variety of insects, e.g. butterflies, grasshoppers, and bees. Larger species can actually prey on small vertebrates including hummingbirds. Their front legs are modified into perfect tools for grasping and holding prey, which is eaten alive. At rest, the folded front legs give the impression of a posture of prayer, hence the common name praying mantis.

Mantises have incredible good eyesight. Some species have a visual range of 20 m which is a lot for a rather small animal. Their compound eyes may comprise up to 10 000 individual eyes.

These animals are also famous for cannibalism of males by females but it seems that this is not the rule among all mantis species.

The newly described leaf-dwelling mantis, Cornucollis masoalensis, was discovered in a museum collection and measures about 24 mm in length, which is small for a praying mantis. It has distinctive speckled patches on its head. It is named for the Masoala peninsula of Madagascar, the region where the specimen was collected.

For the experts: An examination of Malagasy specimens accessed within the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris, France, produced a praying mantis (Insecta: Mantodea) of an undescribed genus and species. An investigation of the internal and external morphology, in addition to its collection locality, revealed that this specimen belongs to the Iridopterygidae subfamily Tropidomantinae. Furthermore, the specimen’s unique combination of characters justified the creation of a new genus. Geographic distributional records and external morphological character evidence are presented for Cornucollis gen. n. masoalensis sp. n. We provide a dichotomous key of the Tropidomantinae and Nilomantinae genera distributed within Madagascar. High-resolution images, illustrations of morphological characters, natural history information, and measurement data are presented.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A new thrush: Zoothera salimalii

New bird species are rarely discovered nowadays. In the last 15 years, approximately five new species have been discovered annually on average, mainly in South America. 

A new species from north-eastern India and adjacent parts of China was first discovered when it was realised that what was considered a single species, the Plain-backed Thrush Zoothera mollissima, was in fact two different species. What first caught the attention of the scientists was the fact thrushes in the coniferous and mixed forest had a rather musical song. This was in contrast to individuals found on bare rocky ground above the treeline in the same area, as they had a much harsher, scratchier, more unmusical song. The Himalayan Forest Thrush (Zoothera salimalii) is locally common. It has just been overlooked until now because of its close similarity in appearance to the Alpine Thrush.

The new species was named after Dr Sálim Ali, in honor of his contributions to the development of Indian ornithology and conservation.

For the experts: In earlier field observations, we noted two very different song types of “Plain-backed” Thrush segregated by breeding habitat and elevation. Further integrative analyses congruently identify three groups: an alpine breeder in the Himalayas and Sichuan, China (“Alpine Thrush”); a forest breeder in the eastern Himalayas and northwest Yunnan (at least), China (“Himalayan Forest Thrush”); and a forest breeder in central Sichuan (“Sichuan Forest Thrush”). Alpine and Himalayan Forest Thrushes are broadly sympatric, but segregated by habitat and altitude, and the same is probably true also for Alpine and Sichuan Forest Thrushes. These three groups differ markedly in morphology and songs. In addition, DNA sequence data from three non-breeding specimens from Yunnan indicate that yet another lineage exists (“Yunnan Thrush”). However, we find no consistent morphological differences from Alpine Thrush, and its breeding range is unknown. Molecular phylogenetic analyses suggest that all four groups diverged at least a few million years ago, and identify Alpine Thrush and the putative “Yunnan Thrush” as sisters, and the two forest taxa as sisters. Cytochrome b divergences among the four Z. mollissima sensu lato (s.l.) clades are similar to those between any of them and Z. dixoni, and exceed that between the two congeneric outgroup species. We lectotypify the name Oreocincla rostrata Hodgson, 1845 with the Z. mollissima sensu stricto (s.s.) specimen long considered its type. No available name unambiguously pertains to the Himalayan Forest Thrush.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A new leech: Chtonobdella tanae

I am thrilled to be immortalized as Chtonobdella tanae. This humble leech has looped across a new scientific threshold--the first microscopic soft-bodied critter to be described inside and out using CT scanning. Imagine the possibilities for identifying legions of tiny organisms that have thus far lived in obscurity. I am now planning my trip to Queensland, Australia, where I hope to take leisurely walks through the jungle, accompanied by a dozen or so of my namesake feeding on my ankles.
Amy Tan 

Chtonobdella tanae, a terrestrial leech from Australia, is the first new species of invertebrate without chitinous or calcified tissues (like a shell or exoskeleton) to be described with computed tomography (CT) scanning.

For the experts: Two-jawed (duognathous) terrestrial leeches in the Haemadipsidae are major pests across their wide geographic range, represented by numerous endemic species in Australia and across many islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. However, haemadipsid taxonomy, based largely on externally visible characters, remains in conflict with phylogenetic relationships. We capitalize on the power of microcomputed tomography (μCT), allowing for the first description of an extant soft-bodied species – Chtonobdella tanae sp. n. – using this technology. Several fixation strategies for soft-bodied invertebrates in μCT scanning applications are also evaluated. Expanding on prior work, higher taxonomy of duognathous haemadipsids also was evaluated with phylogenetic analyses of DNA sequence data. Whereas monophyly of duognathous leeches was supported, substantial conflict remained with respect to named genera. Consequently, the genus Chtonobdella was revised to include all duognathous leech species previously distributed in 31, mostly monotypic genera.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A new iguana: Liolaemus uniformis

During a field trip at 3000 metres above sea level  in the mountains of central Chile, a group of scientists discovered a new endemic iguana species. Accustomed to life in highland rocky habitats with scarce greenery, these lizards spend their active hours mostly hidden under rocks.

In comparison with other local lizard species members of this new species show very consistent colouration among collected individuals, regardless of population or their sex. Eventually, it was this peculiar uniformity that determined the lizard's name Liolaemus uniformis.

For the experts:  The Liolaemus nigroviridis group is a clade of highland lizards endemic to Chile. These species are distributed from northern to central Chile, and currently there are no cases of sympatric distribution. This study describes a new species, Liolaemus uniformis sp. n., from this group, and provides a detailed morphological characterization and mitochondrial phylogeny using cytochrome-b. Liolaemus uniformis was found in sympatry with L. nigroviridis but noticeably differed in size, scalation, and markedly in the color pattern, without sexual dichromatism. This new species has probably been confused with L. monticola and L. bellii, both of which do not belong to the nigroviridis group. The taxonomic issues of this group that remain uncertain are also discussed.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A new cricket: Hydrolutos piaroa

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.

A small subset of this group of crickets is found in freshwater streams and pools where their strong legs and claws allow them to grip, clamber and swim through a treacherous, slippery environment. Members of the genus Hydrolutos have been sampled from the impressive tepuis, the Venezuelan flat-topped sandstone table mountains. This new species is the first known sampled in lowland streams of Venezuelan Guayana. It was named after Piaroa Amerindians, the original inhabitants of the region of the type locality.

For the experts: Hydrolutos piaroa, a new species of Lutosini (Orthoptera: Anostostomatidae) from Tobogán de la Selva (Puerto Ayacucho region, SW Venezuela) is described and figured. Inhabiting aquatic environment it represents an unusual orthopteran with sternal and pleural area covered by fine microtrichia, forming a plastron. This is the first known Hydrolutos species sampled in lowland streams of Venezuelan Guayana.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A new snail: Helicopsis persica

Gastropods display a fascinating diversity of elaborate shell structures and have attracted considerable research efforts to explain them. For example the advantage of hair-like shell ornamentation of certain land snail species in the family Hygromiidae was long unknown. Ten years ago we were able to show that the hairs likely facilitate the adherence of the snails to their food plants during foraging especially when humidity levels are high.

Less hairy but with considerable sculpturing of shells comes the genus Helicopsis which is found in central and eastern Europe all the way into Iran. Today's new species was found in Iran and named after the Latin name of Iran, Persia.

For the experts: Helicopsis Fitzinger, 1833 is a mainly eastern European genus of the xerophilous Helicellinae (Geomitridae, Helicoidea; for family systematics see Razkin et al. 2015) that is characterized by two symmetrical dart and accessory sacs. This is probably the plesiomorphous character state within the Geomitridae and Hygromiidae. Therefore, the delimitation and relationships of Helicopsis remained questionable (Hausdorf 1996). Most Helicopsis species are characterized by a lateral attachment of the outer layer of the penial papilla at the penis wall so that a cavity is separated in the proximal part of the penis (Schileyko 1978; Giusti et al. 1992; Hausdorf 1996). However, a similar cavity is present in some other Helicellinae (e.g., Pseudoxerophila, Xerolenta, Xeromunda). Giusti et al. (1992) considered these cavities artefacts, but it cannot be excluded that they are actually homologous to the cavity of Helicopsis. Therefore, it is doubtful whether such a cavity can be considered as an autapomorphy of Helicopsis. About ten species of Helicopsis are spread from Turkey and Bulgaria to the Ukraine with a centre of diversity on the Crimean peninsula. Only the type species, Helicopsis striata (Müller, 1774) is more widespread from Alsace in the west, the island Öland in the Baltic Sea in the north to Bulgaria and Turkey in the south and western Russia in the east. Furthermore, species from Morocco, Greece, Cyprus, Iran and the Kopetdag were classified as Helicopsis. The relationships between these species have to be examined in more detail. Here we describe a new Helicopsis species from Iran.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A new termite: Hospitalitermes nigriantennalis

Like their hymenopteran cousins (ants, bees and wasps) termites (isopterans) live in colonies and divide labor among castes, produce overlapping generations, and take care of their young collectively. A typical colony contains nymphs (half-mature young), workers, soldiers, and reproductive individuals of both sexes, sometimes even several egg-laying queens.There are more than 2,900 living termite species worldwide

This new species was found on Borneo and named after the blackish antennae in the soldier caste.

For the experts: A new species of open-air processional column termite is here described based on the soldier and worker castes from eight colonies in north Barito, central Kalimantan. Hospitalitermes nigriantennalis sp. n. is readily distinguished in the field from related Hospitalitermes spp. by the light brown to orangish coloration of the soldier head capsule that, further, is with vertex yellowish and nasus brownish. The soldier antenna and the maxillary and labial palps are blackish. By contrast, soldiers from other species of Hospitalitermes from this region have a uniformly black head capsule and antennae. Finally, H. nigriantennalis sp. n. has a minute indentation in the middle of the posterior part of head capsule, which further helps to differentiate this new species from other Hospitalitermes from the Indo-Malayan and Austro-Malayan regions.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A new slickhead: Leptoderma ospesca

The marine smelt family Alepocephalidae is perhaps better known as Slickheads or nakedheads. They are deep-water fishes living below 1,000 m. Their common name comes from the lack of scales on the head. 

Because of the depth these fishes occur and the technical challenges to find them, new discoveries are comparatively rare and always very interesting such as today's new species caught in the Pacific waters of El Salvador.

The new species name recognizes the contribution of OSPESCA (Organización del Sector Pesquero y Acúicola de Centroamerica) to the discovery of deepwater marine fishes in Central America by sponsoring research cruises of the Spanish research vessel B/O Miguel Oliver.

For the experts: A new species of Leptoderma Vaillant, 1886 is described from a single specimen trawled at 1368–1406 m depth off El Salvador, Central America, tropical eastern Pacific. Leptoderma ospesca n. sp. can be readily distinguished from its congeners by the following combination of characters: dermal papillae absent along the lateral line, pectoral-fin rays 6, pelvic-fin rays 5, pre-dorsal length 54.9% of SL, both dorsal and anal fins separated from the caudal fin, dorsal- and anal-fin rays long, procurrent caudal-fin rays numerous and extending far forward on caudal peduncle, caudal-fin rays 16, and total pre-ural vertebrae 60. A key to the species of the genus is presented.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A new orchid: Encyclia inopinata

Encyclia is a genus of orchids. These plants are so-called epiphytes which means they grow upon another plant such as a tree without harming them. These plants get both moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, and sometimes from debris accumulating around them.

When a group of Mexican researchers stumbled across a beautiful orchid in bloom, they found themselves so surprised by its unique colors and forms that later on they chose the species name inopinatus, meaning "unexpected."

This new elegant orchid species that grows on rocks in deciduous forests in Mexico is between 30 and 42 cm tall, while together with its flowers it reaches between 80 and 90 cm. Having been recorded only from a few sites on the Pacific slope of Oaxaca state, Mexico, it appears to be rare.

For the experts: A new species of Encyclia from Mexico, E. inopinata, is described and illustrated. This species is similar to E. diota but it can be distinguished by its usually more robust plants with 2–3 leaves per pseudobulb and its flowers with longer and narrower sepals (1.8±0.1 × 0.63±0.03 cm in E. inopinata versus 1.48 ±0.14 × 0.65±0.06 cm in E. diota) and petals (1.7±0.05 × 0.59±0.05 cm in E. inopinata vs. 1.36 ±0.19 × 0.81±0.13 cm in E. diota), and the labellum with narrower lateral lobes (0.18±0.02 cm in E. inopinata vs. 0.41±0.10 cm in E. diota). Other characters that differentiate these two species are the coriaceous sepals, pink callus, and white anther of Encyclia inopinata (versus fleshy-leathery sepals, white callus, and yellow anther of E. diota). The new species can be found in deciduous forests along the Pacific slope of Oaxaca state, near of the border with Guerrero state, at about 1200 m. It blooms between March and July.

Friday, January 15, 2016

A new diatom: Pinnularia caprichosa

Pinnularia is a genus of predominantly fresh-water diatoms, usually found in ponds and moist soil. They are elongated elliptical unicellular organisms. Their cell walls are composed chiefly of a rigid silica framework.

Living diatoms are among the most abundant forms of plankton and represent an essential part of the food chain in the ocean. Diatoms are responsible for at least 25% of global carbon dioxide fixation.

The species name honors the group Caprichoso, from the “Boi Bumbá” Folkloric Festival, Parintins City, Amazonas State, Brasil.

For the experts: While possessing a remarkable diversity in the acidic and oligotrophic waters of the Amazon basin, the genus Pinnularia appears underdescribed in the region. In this study, we present light and scanning electron microscopical observations on Pinnularia caprichosa sp. nov. from Tupé Lake, a dendritic lake located on the floodplain of the Negro River basin. This new taxon has a large axial area and transapical striae that are slightly radiate to parallel and longer in the middle portion of the valve. The species was compared with Pinnularia elliptica, P. instabilis, P. lacunarum, P. montana, P. permontana and P. subflexuosa, all of which closely resemble P. caprichosa but differ from the new species in specific details of size, striae density and valve shape.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A new gecko: Cyrtodactylus gunungsenyumensis

Geckos have a number of unique features that distinguish them from other lizards. They use sounds in social interactions with other geckos. They lack eyelids and a fixed lens which is why they often lick their eyes to keep them clean and moist. However, they are probably best known for their specialized toe pads that enable them to climb smooth and vertical surfaces, and even cross indoor ceilings with ease.

Our new species belongs to a group of karst forest-adapted specialists and was found in the karst ecosystem surrounding Gunung Senyum, Malaysia where it occurs on the vertical walls of the limestone towers as well as the branches, trunks, and leaves of the vegetation in the associated karst forest.  Its scientific name (gunungsenyumensis) alludes to its origin.

For the experts: A new species of Bent-toed Gecko, Cyrtodactylus gunungsenyumensis sp. nov. of the sworderi complex, is described from Hutan Lipur Gunung Senyum, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia and is differentiated from all other species in the sworderi complex by having a unique combination of characters including a maximum SVL of 74.7 mm; low, rounded, weakly keeled, body tubercles; 34–40 paravertebral tubercles; weak ventrolateral body fold lacking tubercles; 38–41 ventral scales; an abrupt transition between the posterior and ventral femoral scales; 20–23 subdigital lamellae on the fourth toe; enlarged femoral scales; no femoral or precloacal pores; no precloacal groove; wide caudal bands; and an evenly banded dorsal pattern. Cyrtodactylus gunungsenyumensis sp. nov. is a scansorial, karst forest-adapted specialist endemic to the karst ecosystem surrounding Gunung Senyum and occurs on the vertical walls of the limestone towers as well as the branches, trunks, and leaves of the vegetation in the associated karst forest. Cyrtodactylus gunungsenyumensis sp. nov. is the seventh species of karst forest-adapted Cyrtodactylus and the sixteenth endemic species of karst ecosystem reptile discovered in Peninsular Malaysia in the last seven years from only 12 different karst forests. This is a clear indication that many species remain to be discovered in the approximately 558 isolated karst ecosystems in Peninsular Malaysia not yet surveyed. These data continue to underscore the importance of karst ecosystems as reservoirs of biodiversity and microendemism and that they constitute an important component of Peninsular Malaysia’s natural heritage and should be protected from the quarrying interests of foreign industrial companies.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A new ground beetle: Trichotichnus newtoni

The huge ground beetle subfamily Harpalinae contains about 20,000 species. Sometimes they are called harp beetles. As with many ground beetles despite variation of body shape and coloring, most are shiny black or metallic and have ridged wing covers. Sometimes the wing covers are fused in some species, particularly large one, rendering the beetles unable to fly. 

Today's new species is one of those species that can't fly because its wings are not functional for flight which also means that it usually is not widely distributed. It was found only on the McKinley Mount, Mindanao, Philippines.

The species was named after the coleopterist Alfred F. Newton, who helped the author with his visit to the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, where he was able to study the type series of the new species.

For the experts: Originally described as a separate monotypical genus, Bottchrus Jedlička, 1935 is treated as a senior synonym of Bellogenus Clarke, 1971, the subgenus of the genus Trichotichnus Morawitz, 1863. The type species of the subgenus Bottchrus, stat. n., Trichotichnus (Bottchrus) philippinus (Jedlička, 1935), comb. n., is redescribed on the basis of the holotype from the Philippines (without more detailed location) and the new brachypterous species, Trichotichnus (Bottchrus) newtoni sp. n., is described from the series collected in the McKinley Mount, Mindanao, Philippines. The relationships between the brachypterous species of Bottchrus from Ethiopia, the Himalayan region and the Philippines are briefly discussed. The following synonymy is stated: Bottchrus Jedlička, 1935 = Bellogenus Clarke, 1971, syn. n., = Pseudotrichotichnus Habu, 1973.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A new freshwater turtle: Elseya flaviventralis

Australian snapping turtles are combined in the genus Elseya. There are only eight species and all of them are found in river systems in northern and northeastern Australia and throughout the river systems of New Guinea. 

These turtles are mainly herbivorous, with specialized mouth structures for eating fruits. However, if they get a chance they will not say no to a snack of fish or other animals.

The name flaviventralis is a combination of the Latin words flavus, meaning yellow, and ventralis, meaning belly. 

For the experts: The genus Elseya has had a checkered taxonomic history, but is now restricted to species characterized by an alveolar ridge on the triturating surfaces of the jaw. The Australian forms were once regarded as a single widespread species extending from the Mary River of south-eastern Queensland to the Fitzroy River of north Western Australia, but a number of Australian species have now been identified based on a combination of molecular and morphological data—Elseya dentata, E. irwini, E. lavarackorum and E. albagula. The genus is represented in New Guinea by E. branderhorsti, E. novaeguineae, E. schultzii, and E. rhodini. One additional Australian taxon first identified in 1981 and subsequently established as a distinct taxon by molecular studies, is described here. It is a large chelid turtle that can be distinguished from all other Australian members of the genus Elseya by the distinctive cream or yellow plastron, free of the dark streaking, blotches or suffusing present in other species; an extensive bridge with little or no abrupt angle between the bridge and the ventral surface of the plastron; a head shield broken into a series of small plates rather than a single unit; flat uncornified temporal scales; and a narrower, less robust skull. Osteologically, it can be distinguished from Elseya dentata by the contact of the vomer and the pterygoids. The carapace is typically a light to medium brown in color whereas the carapace of Elseya dentata is typically dark brown to almost black in color. Distribution is the Mary, South Alligator, East Alligator, Goyder and Mann River drainages of the north east of the Northern Territory, Australia. It does not appear to be in sympatry with any other member of Elseya. It is, however, in sympatry with three species of Chelodina, at least two species of Emydura, Myuchelys latisternum and Carettochelys insculpta.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A new chigger mite: Helenicula naresuani

Mites of the family Trombiculidae are also called berry bugs or harvest mites. The best known representatives are perhaps the chiggers. These are the species  that bite their host in their larval stage and cause irritation, usually with severe itching and dermatitis.

Chiggers attach to the host, pierce the skin, inject enzymes into the bite wound that digest cellular contents, and then suck up the digested tissue through a tube. They do not burrow into the skin or suck blood, as is commonly assumed. Itching from a chigger bite may not develop until 1-2 days after the bite, so the victim may not associate the specific exposure with the bite itself.

The new species was discovered as part of a broad sampling effort across 11 provinces in Thailand, and it was found on rodents. There are now 99 known species of chiggers in Thailand. This chigger is named after Naresuan, the king of the Ayutthaya Kingdom (in what is now modern Thailand) from 1590 to 1605.

For the experts: Chigger mites of Thailand were studied on the basis of larvae collected from 19 small mammal species (17 species of Rodentia, 1 species of Erinaceomorpha, and 1 species of Scandentia) and revision of published data. Samples of 38 trombiculid species were collected from 11 provinces. Three new species were described: Trombiculindus kosapani sp. nov., Helenicula naresuani sp. nov., and Walchia chavali sp. nov. Ten species were recorded in Thailand for the first time: Leptotrombidium sialkotense Vercammen-Grandjean and Langston, 1976; Leptotrombidium subangulare Wen and Xiang, 1984; Leptotrombidium tenompaki Stekolnikov, 2013; Leptotrombidium turdicola Vercammen-Grandjean and Langston, 1976; Leptotrombidium yunlingense Yu, Yang, Zhang and Hu, 1981; Lorillatum hekouensis Yu, Chen and Lin, 1996; Helenicula pilosa (Abonnenc and Taufflieb, 1957); Gahrliepia xiaowoi Wen and Xiang, 1984; Walchia minuscuta Chen, 1978; and Walchia ventralis (Womersley, 1952). In all, 99 chigger mite species were considered; the presence of 93 species was established in Thailand by original data or properly documented records in the scientific literature. Evidence for 64 species records of 147 from a previous checklist of Thai chiggers (Tanskul 1993) remains unknown. Distribution of chigger species by geographical regions of Thailand is discussed.

Friday, January 8, 2016

A new frog: Guibemantis diphonus

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. While the majority of the mantellid treefrogs belong to the genus Boophis, several other arboreal species are included in the genus Guibemantis and are in fact more closely related to terrestrial genera than to tree frog genera such as Boophis.

The new species was found in the Manombo Special Reserve in southeastern Madagascar by an old friend of mine. The species name is derived from the Greek root word “phon” meaning “sound” and the prefix “di-” meaning “two”. In phonetics, a diphone is an adjacent pair of phones. The advertisement call of Guibemantis diphonus is characterized by the distinct combination of two note types.

For the experts: We describe a new species of arboreal frog of the genus Guibemantis, subgenus Guibemantis, from low altitude rainforest in Manombo Special Reserve, south-eastern Madagascar. Previously published phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA sequences have placed Guibemantis diphonus sp. nov. sister to G. timidus. The new species is distinguished from G. timidus and all other species in the subgenus by a substantial genetic differentiation (≥ 4.4% uncorrected p-distance in the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene), strongly divergent advertisement call, and some limited morphological differences. It is the smallest known species in the subgenus, with 34−36 mm snout-vent length in adult males. Its advertisement call is unique among other species in the subgenus in being composed of two distinctly different note types (only one note type in the other species).

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A new flea beetle: Notomela joliveti

Flea beetles are small, jumping beetles of the leaf beetle family (Chrysomelidae). They are similar to other leaf beetles, but characteristically the femur of their hindlegs is greatly enlarged. This allows for the springing action of these insects when disturbed hence the name flea beetles.

These beetles feed on plants, eating the surface of the leaves, stems and petals. Some larvae are root feeders.

Today's new species was found on São Tomé and Principe, an island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. The authors say about the name of the new species: With great pleasure we name the new species after our friend Pierre Jolivet, the “Great Old Man” of all the chrysomelid workers around the world.

For the experts: The Afrotropical flea beetle genus Notomela Jacoby, 1899 is reviewed. Notomela joliveti sp.n. from Principe Island is described. The following new synonymies are established: N. cyanipennis Jacoby, 1899 = N. viridipennis Bryant, 1941, syn. n. = N. cyanipennis macrosoma Bechyné, 1959, syn. n. In addition, the new combination is established: Notomela fulvofasciata Jacoby, 1903 is transfered to Amphimela [A. fulvofasciata (Jacoby, 1903), comb. n.]. Micrographs of male and female genitalia, scanning electron micrographs of some diagnostic morphological characters, a key to identification, and distributional data for all species of Notomela, are provided.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A new cuckoo wasp: Chrysis borealis

Cuckoo wasps are also called gold wasps. They are usually small, metallic, and heavily armored, the latter for a very good reason. The wasps are parasites in the nests of other wasps or bees. The female slips into the nest of the host, laying an egg inside. After the egg hatches, the cuckoo wasp’s larva eats either the rightful inhabitant or in many cases the food stored in the nest. 

These wasps have no stinger, so when they are attacked they curl into a ball for defense which is very effective given their string armor.

The species name borealis is a Latin word derived from the Greek word boreas which means north and refers to the known species distribution in the Nordic and Baltic countries and north-western Russia.

For the experts: The Chrysididae are a group of cleptoparasitic and parasitoid aculeate wasps with a large number of rare and endangered species. The taxonomy of this group has long been confusing due to the similarity of species and extensive intraspecific variation. We present for the first time a comprehensive dichotomous key for all 74 species found in the Nordic and Baltic countries. In addition to diagnostic characters, information on the distribution and biology of each species is also presented. A new species, Chrysis borealis Paukkunen, Ødegaard & Soon, sp. n. is described on the basis of specimens collected from Fennoscandia. Chrysis gracillima Förster, 1853 is recorded as new to the Nordic and Baltic countries.

Monday, January 4, 2016

A new ostracod: Bairdoppilata scaura

Ostracods are often called seed shrimp which is in reference to their body shape. Their bodies are flattened from side to side and protected by a mussel-like, chitinous or calcareous valve or "shell". The hinge of the two valves is in the upper region of the body. 

Some 70,000 species have been described but the majority of them is long extinct but the fossil record is rich and Ostracods are bar far the most common arthropods found in fossils. About 13,000 extant species have been found so far, most of them are marine living animals.

Our species of the day was found in the French Frigate Shoals. French Frigate Shoals is an atoll, consisting of a 32-km long, crescent-shaped reef and lagoon on an almost submerged seamount in the Hawaii-Midway chain, 900 km northwest of Honolulu and about the same distance southeast of Midway Island. The species name scaurus, meaning with swollen ankles or club-footed refers to the short antennal claws of the animal.

For the experts: Bairdoppilata scaura, n. sp. and five species of Bairdoppilata and Paranesidea in open nomenclature are described from encrusting communities on French Frigate Shoals and Kane’ohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaiian Islands. Some poorly documented anatomical traits (carapace setae, hingement, antennal claws, genitalia) are examined for their potential taxonomic significance, in order to confirm the coherence of the Genus Bairdoppilata and to explore its diversity. 

A new tachinid fly: Linnaemya bergstroemi

Tachinid fly larvae are parasitoids and their hosts are almost exclusively insects although for many tachinid species the hosts are unknown. They may glue their eggs to their host or lay their eggs on foliage where the host larvae will eat them. Some have ovipositors with which they inject their eggs directly into the unsuspecting host’s body. The true diversity of the family Tachinidae is likely many thousands of species higher than the 10,000 currently described, making this family perhaps the most speciose family of Diptera and without question the most successful with a parasitic way of life.

Today's new species was found in Finnish Lapland. It was named after Christer Bergström (Uppsala, Sweden) as an acknowledgment of his life-long work on the Nordic Tachinidae. 

For the experts: A new tachinid species, Linnaemya bergstroemi n. sp., is described from the Finnish Lapland. The new species closely resembles the Nearctic species Linnaemya anthracina Thompson, but can be readily distinguished from it by the characters described in this paper. The taxonomic placement of the two species is discussed in the light of morphological and CoI sequence similarities with Linnaemya Robineau-Desvoidy species in the subgenera Ophina Robineau-Desvoidy and Bonellimyia Townsend. Known aspects of the new species’ biology and distribution are reviewed.