Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A new frog: Pristimantis pluvialis

The 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.

Today's new species was found near the borders of Manu National Park in Peru. The name of the new species  refers to the high rainfall recorded at the type locality, which averages 6m annually. Males of the new species typically call during or immediately after heavy rains.

For the experts: We describe a new species of Pristimantis from the humid sub-montane forest of the Región Cusco in Peru. Pristimantis pluvialis sp. n. was collected in the Kosñipata and Entoro valleys at elevations from 740 to 1110 m a.s.l., near the borders of Manu National Park and within the Huachiperi Haramba Queros Conservation Concession. The new species can be distinguished from other members of the genus Pristimantis by its rostral tubercle, smooth dorsal skin, and by its advertisement call. Pristimantis lacrimosus and P. waoranii superficially most resemble the new species, but P. pluvialis sp. n. differs from both species by having a rostral tubercle (absent in P. waoranii and variable in P. lacrimosus) and larger size, from P. lacrimosus by its call emitted at a lower frequency, and from P. waoranii for its dorsal coloration with dark markings. Two other species have partially overlapping distributions and resemble the new species, P. mendax and P. olivaceus, but they produce advertisement calls with much higher dominant frequencies than the advertisement call of the new species. Furthermore, P. mendax differs from the new species by lacking a rostral tubercle and by having a sigmoid inner tarsal fold, whereas P. olivaceus differs by being smaller and by having dorsal skin shagreen with scattered tubercles. The new species has snout-vent length of 21.8–26.9 mm in males (n = 12) and 28.8 mm in a single female.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A new sponge: Neopetrosia sulcata

Sponges are similar to other animals in that they are multicellular, heterotrophic, lack cell walls and produce sperm cells. Unlike other animals, they lack true tissues and organs, and they have no body symmetry.  Many sponges have internal skeletons of spongin , calcium carbonate, or silicon dioxide. All sponges are sessile aquatic animals. Although there are freshwater species, the great majority (~10000 species) are marine species, ranging from tidal zones to depths exceeding 8,800 m.

Neopetrosia is a genus of marine sponges. The new species was found in Brazil and its name is derived from the punctiform or furrowed surface, which is one of the characteristics of this species.

For the experts: The genus Neopetrosia was characterized by has fine brushes of oxeas issued from subectosomal tracts and compact choanosomal network. We report and describe here specimens collected in the coast of Brazil: Neopetrosia sulcata sp. nov. and Neopetrosia proxima. The first was previously recorded from Brazil as Neopetrosia proxima, but it was found that these specimens corresponded to a new species. Thus, we provide here the characterization of N. proxima from Brazilian coast. A taxonomic study of Brazilian samples is given, including description, illustrations and geographic distribution, combined with the comparison of the new species with all other descriptions of Neopetrosia from Atlantic.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A new cardinalfish: Gymnapogon janus

The fish family Apogonidae, better known as Cardinalfish includes about 370 species some of which are very popular aquarium fishes although they are predominantly nocturnal. 

They are generally small, brightly coloured fish, with most species being less than 10 cm, distinguished by their large mouths, and the division of the dorsal fin into two separate fins. Most species live in tropical or subtropical waters, where they inhabit coral reefs and lagoons.

The new species was named for Janus, the Roman God of gates and doors represented by two faces. This is in reference to the rounded caudal fin of the fish.

For the experts: The new species is consistent with Gymnapogon, a distinct genus having one to three spines on the preopercle edge, fused hypurals (parhypural+1+2 and 3+4+terminal central), a free fifth hypural, two epurals, no supraneurals, scaleless head and body, a single rod-like postcleithrum and complex lines of free neuromasts on the head, body and caudal fin. The new species is distinguished by having a combination of a rounded caudal with 15 branched principal caudal-fin rays, 2 unbranched principal caudal-fin rays, 10 soft dorsal rays with the anterior two rays unbranched, 9 or 10 anal rays with the first ray unbranched and 14 pectoral rays the lower three and upper two unbranched. Nominal species Gymnapogon          annona, G. foraminosus, G. japonicus, G. urospilotus and G. vanderbilti have 9 or 10 soft dorsal, 9 or 10 anal rays and 12 to 14 pectoral rays, the lower two and upper two unbranched. Gymnapogon africanus, G. melanogaster and G. philippinus have 9 soft dorsal rays, the first ray unbranched and 8 soft anal rays, the first ray branched. Gymnapogon japonicus has a rounded caudal fin with 13, 14 or 15 branched principal caudal rays. Gymnapogon africanus, G. annona, G. melanogaster, G. philippinus, G. urospilotus and G. vanderbilti have a forked caudal fin with 13 branched principal caudal rays and 2 unbranched upper and lower principal caudal rays. A single preopercle spine distinguishes the new species from the single bifid-like preopercle spine shared by Gymnapogon annona, G. melanogaster and undescribed forms. The wide-spread B-marked species complex made up of Gymnapogon urospilotus, G. vanderbilti and undescribed forms have at least one small upper preopercle spine in addition to the larger single spine near the angle of the preopercle.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A new plant: Spiradiclis pengshuiensis

Image from original publication
in Phytokeys
Ophiorrhizeae is a group in the coffee family Rubiaceae, subfamily Rubioideae. It contains about 360 species in 4 genera only found in tropical and subtropical Asia and the Pacific region. Some species of the group contain camptothecin, an alkaloid used to make chemotherapeutic agents (cancer chemotherapy).

Today's species was found in the Pengshui County, China already in 2013. However, at that time there wasn't enough material for a thorough morphological observation and comparison. Therefore, researchers went back in the following years and successively collected the vouchers during the flowering and fruiting seasons. 

For the experts: Spiradiclis pengshuiensis Bo Pan & R. J. Wang (Rubiaceae) is described as a new species from Chongqing in SW China. It is morphologically compared with S. pauciflora L. Wu & Q. R. Liu because of their similarities in habit, pubescent surface, small leaf laminas and subglobose capsules. Its conservation status is evaluated as “VU” according to the IUCN categories and criteria.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A new carnivorous land snail: Perrottetia megadentata

Predatory gastropods are largely known from a large number of Species that live in the ocean. However, there are in fact a number of terrestrial predatory gastropods, land-living, air-breathing carnivorous snails and slugs.

These snails will eat worms, other snails and slugs if given the choice, but if none are available, they will eat plants. Predatory slugs and snails may eat their victims whole. If the victim is too large, then the predator will eat as much as it can and leave the rest hanging out of its mouth until the first part is digested. This can sometimes lead to a slug or earthworm being digested from it bottom up and still being alive.

Today's new species was found in Laos and was named with respect to some larger "dentition" in its shell opening.

For the experts: The family Streptaxidae in Laos is revised. Twelve species are known, mainly from limestone areas, in the genera Discartemon Pfeiffer, 1856, Perrottetia Kobelt, 1905, Haploptychius Möllendorff, 1906, and Indoartemon Forcart, 1946. Three new species, P. unidentata sp. n. and P. megadentata sp. n. from northern and central Laos, and I. diodonta sp. n. from central Laos, are described. All eight species of these three genera previously recorded from Laos are revised and discussed based on examined material from Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. Type material was examined and lectotypes are designated. Details of genital anatomy and radulae are provided, including the first detailed genitalia and radula descriptions from Haploptychius. Two novelties in Streptaxidae, a vaginal caecum, and the occurrence of aphallic individuals, are reported from H. pellucens (Pfeiffer, 1863).

Monday, May 16, 2016

Two new scorpionflies: Panorpa reflexa and Panorpa parallela

Scorpionflies are named for the appearance of the male insect. The back of his body is enlarged and modified into a wicked-looking tail resembling that of a scorpion. Despite their look, scorpionflies neither sting nor bite and are completely harmless.

These insects are usually not very common but at times they can be found in fair numbers, sitting on leaves in the undergrowth of open woods or in overgrown old fields. Larvae resemble the caterpillars of moths or butterflies. The only difference is that scorpionflies already have compound eyes. Both larva and adults scavenge for dead insects. Sometimes you can see adults feeding on prey trapped in spider webs.

Males often attract female scorpionflies with a morsel of food as nuptial gift which explains the species name.

Two new species were discovered in the Yunnan Province, China. Both their names refer to some morphological features.

For the experts: Two new scorpionfly species, Panorpa reflexa sp. n. and Panorpa parallela sp. n., are described and illustrated from Yunnan Province, China. Panorpa reflexa can be readily differentiated from its congeners by the 3-shaped parameres in male genitalia. Panorpa parallela is unique for its parallel parameres in male genitalia. The number of Panorpa species is raised to four in Yunnan Province, and to 113 throughout China.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A new braconid wasp: Keylimepie peckorum

The wasp family Braconidae is very large. To this date we know about 17 000 species but estimates go as high as 50 000. All of the braconids are parasitoids which means they spend a significant portion of their life as parasites of a host organism. Braconid wasps parasitize upon beetle, fly or butterfly larvae but also on adult insects of groups such as aphids and true bugs. Most species kill their hosts, though some cause the hosts to become sterile and less active.

Today's new species was discovered in a museum drawer about 30 years after it had been collected. In fact it might be possible that it is extinct by now because climate change and pressures from ever-expanding development in its home, the Florida Keys might have a devastating impact. Little is known about this species, not even the kind of caterpillar the wasp uses as a host.

In an attempt to make his discovery stand out - and draw attention to the fragile, disappearing endemic forest it inhabits - entomologist Jose Fernandez-Triana decided to give his find a name he hoped would rise above others. Keylimepie peckorum was named in honor of both the Florida Keys’ famed dessert and the renowned collector who first trapped the wasp while hunting for beetles.

For the experts: Keylimepie peckorum Fernandez-Triana, gen. n. and sp. n., are described from southern Florida, U.S. Females have the shortest wings (0.6–0.7 × body length) of any known microgastrine wasp. The genus can also be recognized on features of the head, propodeum and first three metasomal tergites. All specimens were collected in hammock forests of the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park, but their host caterpillar is unknown. Because its morphology is unique and it is the first new microgastrine genus discovered in North America since 1985, the potential for future conservation of the species is discussed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A new termite: Macuxitermes colombicus

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 in Colombia, hence the species name.

For the experts: A new species of termite, Macuxitermes colombicus Postle & Scheffrahn is described from soldiers and workers collected from Departamento Magdalena, Colombia. The soldier of M. colombicus differs from its lone congener in having no protuberances on the head capsule.

Monday, May 9, 2016

An new parasitic wasp: Conobregma bradpitt

Today's new species belongs to a large worldwide group of wasps parasitising in moth or butterfly caterpillars. These wasps lay their eggs into a host, which once parasitised starts hardening. Thus, the wasp cocoon can safely develop and later emerge from the 'mummified' larva. Despite their macabre behaviour, many of these wasp species are considered valuable in agriculture because of their potential as biological control.

While thinking of a name for the new wasp, Dr Buntika A. Butcher, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, recalled her long hours of studying in her laboratory right under the poster of her favourite film actor. This is how a parasitic wasp from South Africa was named after Hollywood star Brad Pitt. 

For the experts: The genera Conobregma van Achterberg and Facitorus van Achterberg are recorded from the Afrotropical region and the Indian subcontinent, respectively, for the first time, and two new species are described and illustrated: Conobregma bradpitti Quicke & Butcher, sp. n. from South Africa and Facitorus nasseri Ranjith & Quicke, sp. n. from India. Conobregma bradpitti sp. n. is intermediate between Conobregma which was described originally from the New World, and Asiabregma Belokobylskij, Zaldivar-Riverón & Maetô, which was coined for the S. E. Asian and East Palaearctic (Japanese) species described under the name Conobregma, plus more recently discovered taxa, but the differences between these genera are few and slight. Of the four previously proposed diagnostic characters for separating Asiabregma from Conobregma, the new species shares two with each, and therefore, the two genera are formally synonymised. Facitorus was previously known only from the East Palaearctic region and from S. E. Asia (Japan, Nepal, Taiwan and Vietnam).

Thursday, May 5, 2016

A new bush tomato: Solanum ossicruentum

A class of 150 US 7th graders has helped select a name for a newly discovered plant, which amazes with its fruits that appear to be bleeding once they are cut open. A biology professor and a life science teacher challenged the students to come up with ideas for what to call a new Australian species.

This new flowering bush species of the genus Solanum 'behaves' nothing like an ordinary plant. While its unripened fruits are greenish white on the inside when cut open, they start 'bleeding' in no more than two minutes. The scientists have even filmed a short video showing how their insides turn bloody scarlet at first, before growing darker, appearing just like clotting blood.

A number of the students suggested names based on two characteristics of the plant's berries: the 'bleeding' unripened fruits and the dry and bone-hard mature ones. Based on this, the plant will now be known as Solanum ossicruentum, best translated to Australian blood bone tomato, with "ossi" meaning "bone" and "cruentum" meaning "bloody." The species belongs to the genus of the tomato.

For the experts: A new Australian species of functionally dioecious bush tomato of Solanum subgenus Leptostemonum is described. Solanum ossicruentum Martine & J.Cantley, sp. nov., is thought to be allied with members of the problematic “Dioicum Complex” lineage, but differs in its short silvery indumentum, long calyx lobes, larger stature, and an unusual fruit morphology that may represent “trample burr” seed dispersal. The species occurs in a range extending from the eastern Kimberley in Western Australia to far northwestern Northern Territory and has been recognized for decades as a variant of S. dioicum W.Fitzg. Specimens of this species were previously referred to by D.E. Symon and others as Solanum dioicum ‘Tanami.’ Ex situ crossing studies and SEM images of inaperturate pollen grains produced in morphologically hermaphrodite flowers indicate that this taxon is functionally dioecious. The scientific name was chosen with the help of 150 seventh grade life science students from Pennsylvania, USA.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A new leaf miner: Mercantouria neli

Moths of the family Gracillariidae include several economic, horticultural or recently invasive pest species. They feed on a wide range of plants, which unfortunately also includes cultivated plants and crops. Females lay their eggs either on the leaf surface or in a hole they punctured into the leaf. The hatched caterpillar will start feeding on leaf tissue making a tunnel which is called 'mine'. 

In Europe about 160 species of this family are known but new species are discovered frequently and this time not only a new species but a new genus as it didn't fit into existing groups. The name of the new genus refers to the region of Mercantour National Park in France and the species was named after Dr. Jacques Nel who independently recognized and collected the new species.

For the experts: The Alps are a hotspot of biodiversity in Europe with many Lepidoptera species still to be discovered. Here we describe a new gracillariid genus and species, Mercantouria neli gen. n. and sp. n. The morphology of the male genitalia is highly differentiated with unique features. DNA barcodes show that its nearest neighbor is the North American species ‘Caloptilia’ scutellariella (Braun, 1923). M. neli is known from four adults (two males and two females) collected at two localities in the French Alps. Its host plant and life cycle remain unknown.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A new scorpion: Pseudouroctonus maidu

Everybody knows these eight-legged predatory arthropods and almost everybody is also afraid of them as legend has it that their sting is highly toxic and life threatening. In fact there are about 1750 described scorpion species but only about 25 of these species are known to have venom capable of killing a human being. Many scorpion stings are painful but harmless and it is not that scorpions actively pursue animals to sting them.

California is known for its high biological diversity. The state encompasses a wide variety of habitats, from temperate coastal scrub and cool redwood forests to high-elevation conifer forests and grasslands that are home to an equally diverse variety of plants and animals. That is also true for scorpions and it is no surprise that a new species has been reported from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in northeastern California. It was named after the Maidu people of northern California, in whose historic lands the species occurs.

For the experts: A new species of vaejovid scorpion from northern California, Pseudouroctonus maidu sp. n., is named and described. This new species appears to be most similar to Pseudouroctonus iviei (Gertsch & Soleglad, 1972) and Pseudouroctonus glimmei (Hjelle, 1972).