Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A new springtail: Tomocerus tiani

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

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

Today's new species is actually a cave dwelling collembola discovered in China. It was named after its collector Prof. Mingyi Tian.

For the experts: Two new troglobitic species of Tomoceridae are described from Guizhou and Guangxi provinces, China. Tomocerus tiani sp. n. resembles Tomocerus kinoshitai Yosii, 1954, Tomocerus caecus Yu & Deharveng, 2015 and Tomocerus similis Chen & Ma, 1997 but differs from them mainly in the body colour, the cephalic chaetotaxy and the number of manubrial pseudopores. Monodontocerus cinereus sp. n. is similar to Monodontocerus mulunensis Yu, Deharveng & Zhang, 2014 but is different from the latter in the body colour, the length of antennae, the number of ungual teeth and the chaetotaxy on Abd. III and Abd. IV. Special remarks are made on the mesothoracic bothriotricha in Tomocerinae.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Another new frog: Psychrophrynella chirihampatu

The frog genus Psychrophrynella currently includes 21 species distributed across the humid grasslands and forests in the Amazonian slopes of the Andes in southern Peru and Bolivia. These frogs are small, usually measuring between 14 and 33 mm.

Like other recently described species in the genus, this new Psychrophrynella inhabits high-elevation forests in the tropical Andes and likely has a restricted geographic distribution. The name of the new species is a combination of Quechua words meaning “toad” (“hampa’tu”) that lives in the “cold” (“chiri”). The name is a wordplay because genus and species names sharing the same meaning (frog inhabiting cold environments). Psychrophrynella is derived from the Greek psychros (cold) and phrynos (toad).

For the experts: We describe a new species of Psychrophrynella from the humid montane forest of the Department Cusco in Peru. Specimens were collected at 2,670–3,165 m elevation in the Área de Conservación Privada Ukumari Llakta, Japumayo valley, near Comunidad Campesina de Japu, in the province of Paucartambo. The new species is readily distinguished from all other species of Psychrophrynella but P. bagrecito and P. usurpator by possessing a tubercle on the inner edge of the tarsus, and from these two species by its yellow ventral coloration on abdomen and limbs. Furthermore, the new species is like P. bagrecito and P. usurpator in having an advertisement call composed of multiple notes, whereas other species of Psychrophrynella whose calls are known have a pulsed call (P. teqta) or a short, tonal call composed of a single note. The new species has a snout-vent length of 16.1–24.1 mm in males and 23.3–27.7 mm in females. Like other recently described species in the genus, this new Psychrophrynella inhabits high-elevation forests in the tropical Andes and likely has a restricted geographic distribution.

Monday, March 28, 2016

A new rove beetle: Liogluta castoris

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

Today's new species is from Canada and most individuals were collected from beaver dams. Researchers found them among sticks and debris near an overflow area of the dam, or from under overhanging sticks on the outer margin of the dam. Therefore, the new species was named Liogluta castoris

For the experts: Fourteen species of Liogluta Thomson are reported from Canada and Alaska. Three of these are described as new to science: Liogluta castoris Klimaszewski & Webster, sp. n.; Liogluta microgranulosa Klimaszewski & Webster, sp. n.; and Liogluta pseudocastoris Klimaszewski & Webster, sp. n. The previously unknown male of L. gigantea Klimaszewski & Langor, L. quadricollis (Casey), L. wickhami (Casey), and female of L. granulosa Lohse are described, and illustrated. Liogluta aloconotoides Lohse is synonymized with Liogluta terminalis (Casey). New provincial and state records are provided for six Liogluta species. A key to species, revised distribution with new provincial records, and new natural history data are provided.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A new gecko: Diplodactylus ameyi

I have a weak spot for geckos and very often new species discoveries end up on this blog. 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.

Today's new species comes from Queensland, Asutralia. It was named after Dr. Andrew Amey for his contributions to documenting Australia’s herpetofauna and for granting the authors access to the Queensland Museum’s reptile and amphibian collections.

For the experts: We describe a new species of small terrestrial gecko in the genus Diplodactylus from inland regions of western Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. Diplodactylus ameyi sp. nov. can be distinguished from its congeners in the Diplodactylus conspicillatus species-group by its relatively large size, bulbous tail which lacks an acute attenuated extension at tip, small first labial scale and comparatively robust head morphology (which includes a broadly rounded snout and no well-defined canthus rostralis). Related populations from eastern and central Queensland currently referred to D. platyurus include further deeply divergent lineages but additional material is required to resolve systematic boundaries in this region.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A new skink: Tytthoscincus batupanggah

Skinks are lizards belonging to the family Scincidae and with more than 1,500 species it is one of the most diverse groups of lizards. Skinks look roughly like other lizards, but most species have no pronounced neck and their legs are relatively small. In fact some species have no legs, or very small ones or lacking a single leg pair.

Today's species belongs to a genus of leaf-litter dwelling skinks that live in South East Asia. The species name is in reference to the type locality at Batu Panggah on Gunung Penrissen, Malaysia. From Malay, Batu Panggah translates to “Stone of the Head House” or “Cursed Stone” to refer to the large sandstone rock that is believed by local peoples to be cursed. 

For the experts: We describe two new species of skinks from Gunung Penrissen, Sarawak, Malaysia, in northern Borneo, Tytthoscincus batupanggah sp. nov. and T. leproauricularis sp. nov. Morphological and molecular analyses both corroborate the two new species as unique compared to all other Tytthoscincus and additional Sphenomorphus that are candidates for taxonomic placement in the genus Tytthoscincus. Despite their phenotypic similarity and sympatric distribution, a molecular analysis shows that the new species are not sister taxa and exhibit a deep genetic divergence between each of their respective sister taxa. We discuss how historical climatic and geographic processes may have led to the co-distribution of two relatively distantly related phenotypically similar species. In light of these discoveries, we also emphasize the importance of conserving primary montane tropical rainforest for maintaining species diversity.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A new fish: Capoeta coadi

Capoeta is a genus of ray-finned fish in the carp family that live in Western Asian (Middle East). The genus includes about 24 species widely distributed in many river drainages and basins in southwestern Asia except the Arabian Peninsula.

Most of these species are not very easy to tell apart. As a result some more recent studies started to use DNA as an additional tool to delineate species and check the validity of new ones.

Today's new species was named after Brian W. Coad, a well-known Canadian ichthyologist to honor his contributions to the knowledge of freshwater fishes of Iran.

For the experts: As presently recognized, the genus Capoeta includes 24 species, nine of which are known to occur in Iran (C. aculeata, C. capoeta, C. buhsei, C. damascina, C. fusca, C. heratensis, C. mandica, C. saadii and C. trutta) and are distributed in almost all Iranian basins except Sistan and Mashkid. Capoeta coadi sp. n. is a new species from the Karun River, southern Iran, draining into the Arvand Rud (Shatt al-Arab) which drains into the Persian Gulf. It is distinguished from all other species of Capoeta by the combination of the following characters: elongate and usually cylindrical body; 8–9 branched dorsal-fin rays; last unbranched dorsal-fin ray weakly to moderately ossified and serrated along 1/3–2/3 of its length; scales small; 70-84 in lateral line (total); 12–17 scales between dorsal-fin origin and lateral line; 9-11 scales between anal-fin origin and lateral line; 26–32 circum-peduncular scales; 10–13 gill rakers on lower limb of first gill arch; 45–47 total vertebrae; one posterior pair of barbels; bright golden-greenish or silvery body coloration in life; length of the longest dorsal-fin ray 15–22% SL; head length 23–26% SL; mouth width 7–10% SL. Capoeta coadi is also distinguished from all other congeners in the Iranian drainages by fixed diagnostic nucleotide substitutions in the mtDNA COI barcode region and cyt b. It is nested in the Capoeta damascina species complex.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A new frog: Pristimantis dorado

One extraordinarily diverse genus of frogs, Pristimantis, includes 465 recognized species, 205 of them from Colombia. 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.

Males of many frog species advertise for females with distinctive calls produced by vocal sacs or vocal slits. Oddly, although today's new species lacks these structures, males are still able to produce calls consisting of an irregularly pulsed series of clicks.

The new species was found calling from bushes along a roadside at about 2,650 m elevation near Chingaza National Park, roughly 16 km east of Bogotá, Colombia's capital and largest city. Its discovery so close to a metropolitan area of nearly 10 million inhabitants illustrates how much of the planet's biodiversity remains to be discovered.

The name of the new species, Pristimantis dorado, commemorates both its color (dorado means 'golden' in Spanish) and El Dorado, a mythical city of gold eagerly sought for centuries by Spanish conquistadores in South America.

For the experts: A new species of Pristimantis is described from an Andean cloud forest at 2650 m in the Cordillera Oriental of Colombia. Pristimantis dorado sp. nov. is similar to and could be closely related to P. acutirostris, but can be readily distinguished from this latter species by the absence of a tympanic annulus, vocal slits, vocal sac and reticulations on concealed surfaces, and by having a metallic gold iris with a brown horizontal streak. The phylogenetic position of the new species is recovered and we provide its advertisement call, which this species manages to emit despite lacking a vocal sac and vocal slits. This discovery reminds us that despite the extensive research on the alpha-taxonomy of Pristimantis in Colombia, fieldwork in high montane forests continues to yield previously unknown species.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Two new batfleas: Araeopsylla goodmani and Araeopsylla smiti

Fleas are wingless insects. However, their legs are long, the hind pair well adapted for jumping. A flea can jump vertically up to 18 cm and horizontally up to 33 cm, making it one of the best jumpers of all known animals (relative to body size), second only to the froghopper. If humans had the jumping power of a flea, a average size person could make a jump 90 m long and 49 m high. 

Fleas are external parasites, living off the blood of mammals and birds. They have mouthparts adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. Today's new species are specialized on blood from bats and were found in Madagascar.

Araeopsylla goodmani was named in honor of its collector, Dr. Steven M. Goodman from the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago. Mr. F.G.A.M. Smit, during his long tenure at the British Museum, London was a major contributor to our knowledge of the global flea fauna, Araeopsylla smiti was named after him. 

For the experts: The flea genus Araeopsylla Jordan and Rothschild, 1921 contains nine species distributed throughout the Palaearctic, Ethiopian and Oriental Regions primarily on mollosid bats. A new species of bat flea, Araeopsylla goodmani, is described. This new species is represented by three females collected from one male specimen of the mollosid bat Chaerephon jobimena Goodman & Cardiff, 2004 from Fianarantsoa Province, Madagascar. A second new species, Araeopsylla smiti, is described from one male from the Rift Valley, Kenya. It was collected from the molossid bat Chaerephon bivittatus (Heuglin, 1861). This represents the first record of Araeopsylla in Kenya. Previous records of Araeopsylla in the Malagasy region included Araeopsylla martialis (Rothschild, 1903) from Reunion Island and Madagascar. One hundred fifty-eight specimens (64♂, 94♀) of A. martialis were collected from 67 specimens (flea intensity of 2.4 fleas per host) of Mormopterus jugularis (Peters, 1865) across three provinces of Madagascar (Fianarantosa, Toamasina, and Toliara). Mormopterus jugularis is clearly a common host for A. martialis. Dampfia grahami grahami (Waterston, 1915) is also reported from Eptesicus matroka (Thomas & Schwann, 1905) which is the first record from this host species and the first time the genus Dampfia has been documented in Madagascar. Although Lagaropsylla consularis Smit, 1957 and Lagaropsylla idae Smit, 1957 have been reported in Madagascar previously, Mops leucostigma Allen, 1918 is a new host record for L. idae. The flea intensity of L. idae (64♂, 83♀) on 28 specimens of M. leucostigma was extremely high at 5.3 fleas per host. A key to the genus Araeopsylla is provided.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Two new triclads: Girardia desiderensis and Girardia pierremartini

Triclads are a group of free-living flatworms in the sub-division Turbellaria. They are also known as planarians, although this common name is used many other free-living platyhelminthes. 

Dugesiidae is a family of freshwater Tricladida with a global dsitribution. They can be found pretty much everywhere except Antarctica. According to some molecular analyses, Dugesiidae is the sister group of land planarians.

Today's new species were found in caves in Brazil. Girardia desiderensis was named after its type-locality, the region of São Desidério, with one of the largest hydrogeological systems in South America. The name Girardia pierremartini honors the Grupo Pierre Martin de Espeleologia for numerous discoveries concerning caves in Brazil.

For the experts: The diversity of freshwater triclads in the Neotropical region is considered to be low, but extensive areas of South America remain almost unexplored. Herein we describe two cave-dwelling, new species of Girardia, one from a transition zone of the Cerrado and Caatinga phytophysiognomies and the other from the Cerrado phytophysiognomy. The species from the Cerrado-Caatinga transition is a troglobite, eyeless and whitish; the species from the Cerrado area is possibly a troglophile, since it shows heavily pigmented body and eyes. Each species is easily recognized by a unique combination of features in its external morphology and copulatory apparatus. The two new species of Girardia show a restricted distribution, even the troglophile, and occur in caves without legal protection. Therefore, they must be considered as vulnerable organisms in a conservation context.

Friday, March 11, 2016

A new frog: Microhyla laterite

Microhyla laterite Image Credit: Ramit Singal
Laterite rock formations are prominent landscape features in the coastal plains of southwest India. These rocky areas are usually devoid of trees and other vegetation, and are therefore classified as wastelands. In addition they are often used for dumping activities and are heavily mined for construction materials such as bricks.

While conducting field surveys as a part of the citizen science initiative "My laterite, My habitat," an independent researcher spotted an unknown frog in laterite habitats in and around the coastal town of Manipal. The frog, which measures around 1.6 centimetres, is pale brown with prominent black markings on its dorsum, hands, feet and flanks. It has a call that can be easily mistaken for that of a cricket.

The newly discovered species was named Microhyla laterite after the habitat it resides in.

For the experts: In recent times, several new species of amphibians have been described from India. Many of these discoveries are from biodiversity hotspots or from within protected areas. We undertook amphibian surveys in human dominated landscapes outside of protected areas in south western region of India between years 2013–2015. We encountered a new species of Microhyla which is described here as Microhyla laterite sp. nov. It was delimited using molecular, morphometric and bioacoustics comparisons. Microhyla laterite sp. nov. appears to be restricted to areas of the West coast of India dominated by laterite rock formations. The laterite rock formations date as far back as the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary and are considered to be wastelands in-spite of their intriguing geological history. We identify knowledge gaps in our understanding of the genus Microhyla from the Indian subcontinent and suggest ways to bridge them.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

A new hyroid: Zygophylax kakaiba

Hydroids are a life stage for most animals of the class Hydrozoa, small predators related to jellyfish. The most famous representative is the freshwater genus Hydra. Most members of the class are colonial which means a founder polyp is anchored to the substrate and forms a bud which remains attached to its parent. This in turn buds and in this way a stem is formed. The arrangement of polyps and the branching of the stem is often characteristic of the species.

The same is true for today's new species. In Tagalog, a native language of The Philippines, the word kakaiba means “weird”, used here as a reference to some unique features of the branching.

For the experts: The genus Zygophylax Quelch, 1885 includes ca. 50 valid species of leptothecate hydroids that occur mainly in deep waters. Herein we describe Zygophylax kakaiba, sp. nov., collected in the Philippines at a depth of 580 m during the Siboga Expedition. Compared to its congeners, this species is distinguished by the abrupt curvature of the distal third of its hydrothecae towards the adcauline side.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A new fish: Myloplus zorroi

A mysterious new fish, commonly known as 'pacu' among Brazilians was found back in 2007 but it was assigned to a wrong genus.  The fish is a relative of the piranha and was again collected by sport fishermen from Rio Madeira basin, Brazil and now properly named and described.

Among the distinctive features of the new fish, are its characteristic teeth, specialized to crush seeds. The new species is quite large, growing up to 47,5 cm. It dwells in moderately to rapidly flowing clear rivers, running over rocky or sandy bottoms, and ranging from about 2 to 8 m in depth.

The name of the new fish was actually chosen as a tribute to Mauricio Camargo-Zorro, a researcher at the Instituto Federal de Educacao, Ciencia e Tecnologia, in recognition of his contribution to the fish fauna inventory from the Marmelos Conservation Area. However, zorroi is also a playful reference to the Latin American fictional character Don Diego de la Vega better known as Zorro.

For the experts: Myloplus zorroi sp. n. is described from the Rio Madeira Basin in Amazonia. The new species had been treated as an undescribed Tometes species because of the absence of a marked abdominal keel and few small spines forming its prepelvic serrae, features commonly found in the species of the Myleus clade of the Serrasalmidae (species of genera Myleus, Mylesinus, Ossubtus and Tometes) and also in species of Utiaritichthys. Myloplus zorroi sp. n. shares the following characters with its congeners and Utiaritichthys: molariform teeth (versus incisiform teeth in Myleus clade members); a labial row of premaxillary teeth separated from lingual row by an internal gap (versus absence of internal gap between premaxillary teeth rows); and an ascending process of premaxilla wide from its base to the tip (versus ascending process tapering from its base to the tip). Like other Myloplus species, M. zorroi sp. n. differs from Utiariticthys by having a deeper body, approximately 60% of standard length (versus usually less than 50% of standard length). Considering all the morphological evidence, including the presence of 13–19 low spines forming the prepelvic serrae in M. zorroi sp. n. versus more than 20 high spines forming a marked prepelvic keel in other species of Mylopus, the new species is here assigned to Myloplus. Comparisons of the new species with nominal species of Myloplus, representatives of the Myleus clade, and other related taxa are provided.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A new gossamer-winged butterfly: Jamides vasilia

The butterfly family Lycaenidae is the second-largest with over 5000 species. The family is traditionally divided into the subfamilies of the blues (Polyommatinae), the coppers (Lycaeninae), the hairstreaks (Theclinae), the harvesters (Miletinae), and a few other smaller groups.

The genus Jamides belongs to the blues. It is distributed throughout much of the Oriental, Australian and Pacific region tropics and currently contains about 60 species.Today's new species was collected in Papua New Guinea and it was is named in honour of the author’s wife, who always supported his obsession in butterfly research, despite the many sacrifices both on and off the field.

For the experts: Jamides vasilia sp. n., from montane West New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea, is described and illustrated. The new species is strongly divergent from other known Jamides Hübner, 1819 in possessing a high antenna-forewing length ratio, long androconia on the hindwing upperside and a strongly convex forewing inner margin in the male. It is compared by external structures, male genitalia and mtDNA sequence data to putative related species in the cyta group of Jamides. Notes on various Jamides taxa from the Bismarck Archipelago are also provided, with J. pseudosias (Rothschild, 1915) and J. reverdini (Fruhstorfer, 1915) recorded from New Britain for the first time.

Monday, March 7, 2016

A new carnation: Eremogone ali-gulii

The carnation family or Caryophyllaceae, is a large family of flowering plants with 2200 - 3000 species (estimates vary by author). The family is cosmopolitan but most species grow in the Mediterranean and bordering regions of Europe and Asia. The number species in the Southern Hemisphere is rather small, although the family does contain the Antarctic pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis), the world's southernmost dicot, which is one of only two flowering plants found in Antarctica.

So not surprisingly, our new species was found in the Mediterranean, more precisely on the Kop mountain which is part of the Pontic Mountains in North Anatolia, Turkey. The new species was named in honour of the Turkish hydrobiologist Prof. Dr. Ali Gül.

For the experts: Eremogone ali-gulii (Caryophyllaceae) is described as a new species of Eremogone in Turkey. The specimens were collected from Kop Mountain (Erzurum). The new species is endemic of the Irano-Turanian region and is related to Eremogone scariosa and E. armeniaca. The differences on sterile shoots, habit, sepals and capsules between these species are discussed. Description, distribution, illustration and conservation status of the new species are given.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A nw planthopper: Neohemisphaerius guangxiensis

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.

Planthoppers are feeding on plant sap and are therefore often vectors for plant diseases that can be transmitted in the process.

The new species was named after the type locality, Guangxi province, in China.

For the experts: The planthopper genus Neohemisphaerius Chen, Zhang & Chang, 2014 (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea: Issidae) is reviewed to include 3 species: N. wugangensis Chen, Zhang & Chang, 2014 (China: Hunan), N. yangi Chen, Zhang & Chang, 2014 (China: Guangdong) and N. guangxiensis sp. n. (China: Guangxi). A revised generic diagnosis is given. The new species is described and all species illustrated. A key to these three species is also given. The species Neohemisphaerius signifer (Walker) is transferred back to Hemisphaerius as H. signifer Walker, comb. revived.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A new carrion plant: Rafflesia consueloae

Rafflesia is a small but very interesting genus of plants. It contains only 28 species, all found in southeastern Asia. The flowers of most of them look and smell like rotting flesh and this foul odor attracts insects such as flies, which transport pollen from male to female flowers.

Rafflesia flowers are unique in that they are entirely parasitic on the roots and stems of specific Tetrastigma vines in the forests and have no distinct roots, stems, or leaves of their own. They are entirely dependent on their host plants for water and nutrients.  The only part of the plant that can be seen outside the host vine is a five-petaled flower and in some species (Rafflesia arnoldii) such a flower may measure over 100 cm in diameter, and weigh up to 10 kg.

Today's new species has an average diameter of only 9.73 cm which makes it a dwarf among all the other giant flowers. Also, unlike other Rafflesia flowers it smells like young coconut meat, according to the researchers. The name honors Ms Consuelo ‘Connie’ Rufino Lopez, lifelong partner of industrialist Oscar M. Lopez, and a plant lover in her own right. Both delight in culturing, growing and tending their garden which includes more than 100 species of trees, orchids and other plants. With her demure but strong personality, traits which Rafflesia consueloae possess, she provides the inspiration for Mr Lopez’s pursuit of biodiversity conservation in the Philippines.

For the experts: A new species of Rafflesia (Rafflesiaceae) from Luzon Island, Philippines, Rafflesia consueloae Galindon, Ong & Fernando, is described and illustrated. It is distinct from all other species of Rafflesia in its small-sized flowers, the upright perigone lobes, and prominently cream-white disk surface that is often devoid of processes. Its small-sized flowers, with an average diameter of 9.73 cm when fully expanded, make it the smallest of the largest flowers in the world.