Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A new spider crab: Paramaya mulli

The crab family Majidae comprises of about 200 marine species that often live in deeper waters. The legs can be very long in some species which gave them the name spider crab. This new member was found in the Bay of Bengal in India.

The species is named after the Mulli plant in Tamil mythology, from the classic poetic work Kurunthogai. Mulli is a coastal plant (Spinifex littoreus) with very sharp spines (mull is the Tamil word for spiny), a character shared with the new crab species.

For the experts: The identity of the majid species of Paramaya De Haan, 1837, in the Indian Ocean is clarified with the collection of fresh specimens from the Bay of Bengal. Previously identified as P. spinigera (De Haan, 1837) which is known only from Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, the material from eastern India is here referred to a new species, P. mulli sp. n. The new species can easily be distinguished from all congeners by its relatively shorter pseudorostral and carapace spines, more swollen branchial regions, distinctly granulated male thoracic sternum, and the G1 is not prominently curved with the dorsal projection on the sub distal part short and the tip rounded.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

New parasitic wasps - Crocodile Dundee and Toblerone

Qrocodiledundee outbackense - Credit Jose Fernandez-Triana
A whooping 17 new genera and 29 new species of parasitoid wasps from around the globe were recently described from specimens at the Canadian National Collection of insects in Ottawa. The new species came from the tropics, including the Afrotropical, Australasian, Neotropical and the Oriental region. The lead author, Dr Jose Fernandez-Triana, colleague and friend, is a world renowned expert of the wasps and with his colleague Caroline Boudreault he published a monograph on these species.

Reported from the Australasian region, the genus Qrocodiledundee is not only a reference to the famous Australian comedy 'Crocodile Dundee', which also happens to be a favourite of the lead author,  but also refers to his own nickname. In the past, he used to track down and catch crocodiles for scientific study, and was even bitten by one, much like the fictional character played by Paul Hogan. The species name 'outbackense' refers to the Outback, the vast and remote interior of Australia.

Another favourite of the first author, the chocolate brand 'Toblerone' was used to generate the genus name Tobleronius. A segment in the midsection of the bodies of the wasps resembles the triangle pieces the chocolate brand is known for.

For the experts: As part of comprehensive studies on the world fauna of microgastrine parasitoid wasps (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) 17 new genera and 29 new species are described from the Afrotropical, Australasian, Neotropical and Oriental regions. The number of extant genera of Microgastrinae is increased by 21% and currently stands at 81. It is anticipated that more genera will be described in the near future, when phylogenetic studies of the group are advanced. The new taxa showcase unusual morphological traits such as atypical head and mouth part modifications, presence of partial occipital and epicnemial carinae, propodeum carination patterns, hind wing venation, trochantellus shape, tarsal claws, sculpture and shape of the first two metasomal tergites, and ovipositor teeth; in some cases, they also represent some of the largest species known in the subfamily. For every new genus putative autapomorphies, morphological diagnostic features, and DNA barcodes (whenever available) are presented, as well as brief discussions of some informal groupings of genera in the subfamily. However, no attempt is made to reassess the phylogeny of the entire Microgastrinae, as that will require more comprehensive analyses beyond the scope of the present work. The following 17 gen. n., authored by Fernandez-Triana, are described: Agupta, Austinicotesia, Billmasonius, Carlmuesebeckius, Gilbertnixonius, Janhalacaste, Jenopappius, Jimwhitfieldius, Kotenkosius, Markshawius, Ohenri, Qrocodiledundee, Silvaspinosus, Tobleronius, Ungunicus, Ypsilonigaster and Zachterbergius. The following 29 sp. n., authored by Fernandez-Triana and Boudreault, are described: Agupta danyi, Agupta jeanphilippei, Agupta raymondi, Agupta solangeae, Austinicotesia indonesiensis, Austinicotesia papuanus, Billmasonius cienci, Carlmuesebeckius smithsonian, Gilbertnixonius biem, Janhalacaste danieli, Janhalacaste guanacastensis, Janhalacaste winnieae, Jenopappius magyarmuzeum, Jimwhitfieldius jamesi, Jimwhitfieldius sydneyae, Kotenkosius tricarinatus, Markshawius erucidoctus, Markshawius francescae, Markshawius thailandensis, Ohenri gouletorum, Qrocodiledundee outbackense, Silvaspinosus vespa, Tobleronius orientalis, Ungunicus vietnamensis, Ypsilonigaster naturalis, Ypsilonigaster sharkeyi, Ypsilonigaster tiger, Ypsilonigaster zuparkoi, and Zachterbergius tenuitergum. The following four comb. n. are proposed: Jenopappius niger (de Saeger, 1944), Jenopappius aethiopica (de Saeger, 1944), Ypsilonigaster bumbana (de Saeger, 1942), and Ypsilonigaster pteroloba (de Saeger, 1944).

Monday, June 25, 2018

New goblin spiders

Xestaspis kandy (credit: Suresh P. Benjamin)
The goblins Bom, Snooky and Tumpy and the brownies Chippy, Snippy and Tiggy are fictional characters invented the English children's writer Enid Blyton, famous for her The Famous Five series and many more children books. I admit I read very many of those as a kid.

Some colleagues have now used the character names describe six new species of minute goblin spiders discovered in the diminishing forests of Sri Lanka. The spider family Oonopidae ,commonly known as goblin spiders, consists of over 1,600 described species. Most of them are tiny, measuring only about 1 to 3 millimeters. As a result they are seldom seen by people as they are too small to be easily noticed. They are generally found in leaf litter and under rocks, but they also make up a significant component of the spider fauna living in the canopy of tropical rainforests.

For the experts: Nine new species of goblin spiders are described in six different genera: Cavisternum bom n. sp., Grymeus dharmapriyai n. sp., Ischnothyreus chippy n. sp., Opopaea spinosiscorona n. sp., Pelicinus snooky n. sp., P. tumpy n. sp., Silhouettella saaristoi n. sp., S. snippy n. sp. and S. tiggy n. sp. Three genera are recorded for the first time in Sri Lanka: Cavisternum, Grymeus and Silhouettella. The first two genera are reported for the first time outside of Australia. Sri Lankan goblin spider diversity now comprises 45 described species in 13 different genera.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A new isopod: Stenasellus tashanicus

Isopods are an order of crustaceans that includes woodlice and their relatives. Isopods can be found in the sea, in fresh water, or on land. There are over 10000 known species of isopods in the world and they conquered most environments.

There are quite a few isopods that are found in subterranean waters, cave-dwellers that are specifically adapted to life in this environment. The new species was found in a cave in Iran. Consequently it was named after the type locality, the Tashan Cave.

For the experts: A new stenasellid isopod is described from Tashan Cave, Khuzestan Province, south-west Iran, belonging to the genus Stenasellus Dollfus, 1897. The first recorded species of Stenasellidae from Iran, Stenasellus tashanicus sp. n., is diagnosed by the presence of antennae with a minute squama bearing paired, long, robust setae; a maxilliped endite with six coupling hooks; and slender appendix masculina with an acute apex. A revised generic diagnosis is provided with a key to the six known western Asian Stenasellus species.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A new lichen: Architrypethelium murisporum

Lichens are fascinating organisms. In fact they are composite organisms build by algae or cyanobacteria living among filaments of multiple fungi in a symbiotic relationship. This combination of organisms has different properties than the individual species that build it.

Until now, the genus Architrypethelium has not been known from southeast Asia but this new species was found in Thailand.

The species name refers to the form of the spores of one of the fungi that are part of the composite.

For the experts: Architrypethelium murisporum Luangsuphabool, Lumbsch & Sangvichien is described for a crustose lichen occurring in dry evergreen forest in Thailand. It is characterised by a green to yellow-green corticated thallus, perithecia fused in black pseudostromata with white rim surrounding the ostiole and small, hyaline and muriform ascospores. Currently, all species in the genus Architrypethelium have transversely septate ascospores, hence the discovery of this new species indicates that ascospore septation is variable within the genus, similar to numerous other groups of lichen-forming ascomycetes. Phylogenetic analyses of two loci (mtSSU and nuLSU) supported the position of the new species within Architrypethelium. This is the first report of the genus in Southeast Asia.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A new legume: Psoralea forbesiae

Psoralea is a genus with its own family. Most species are actually poisonous,  but the starchy roots of two species,  P. esculenta (prairie turnip) and P. hypogaea,  are in fact edible. A few species form tumbleweeds.

The name of the new species honours Scottish born Helena Madelain Lamond Forbes (1900–1959) who immigrated to South Africa with her parents when young. She worked at the National Herbarium in Pretoria, visited Kew Gardens for one year and ended up as the Curator of the Natal Herbarium (NH).

For the experts: Psoralea forbesiae C.H.Stirt., A.Bello & Muasya is a new species of Psoraleeae, Fabaceae. Psoralea forbesiae is endemic to the Swartberg Mountains and is a tall densely branched re-sprouting shrub up to 2.5 m, with bluish-green stems and with most parts covered in small crater-like glands, leaves pinnately 3-foliolate, linear-oblong, pale bluish-green, semi-conduplicate, somewhat succulent, glabrous, crowded at the end of bare branches on older stems or distributed along short branches on young shoots, petiolate. A description of P. forbesiae, together with photographs and a distribution map are presented.

Friday, June 8, 2018

A new tetra: Hyphessobrycon piorskii

Hyphessobrycon is a genus of freshwater fish in the family Characidae, a family that also contains Piranhas. This genus belongs to a group of fish widely known as tetras. They are distributed from southern Mexico to Río de la Plata in Argentina. Many species are native to South America and about half a dozen species come from Central America. Many tetra species are popular aquarium fish and some are bred in large numbers in captivity.

The name piorskii honors the ichthyologist Nivaldo Magalhães Piorski for his contributions to the ichthyologic knowledge of the Maranhão State.

For the experts: A new species of Hyphessobrycon is described for the upper Munim and Preguiças river basins, northeastern Brazil, supported by morphological and molecular species delimitation methods. This new species belongs to the Hyphessobrycon sensu stricto group, as it has the three main diagnostic character states of this assemblage: presence of a dark brown or black blotch on the dorsal fin, absence of a black midlateral stripe on its flank and the position of Weberian apparatus upward horizontal through dorsal margin of operculum. Our phylogenetic analysis also supported the allocation of the new species in this group; however, it was not possible to recover the species sister-group. Pristella maxillaris and Moenkhausia hemigrammoides were recovered as the sister-clade of the Hyphessobrycon sensu stricto group.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A new shrimp: Odontonia bagginsi

Two new species of tiny symbiotic shrimps were described, illustrated and named by a biology student at Leiden University. The new shrimps do not reach sizes above a centimetre in length, and were found inside tunicates. It is believed that these symbiotic crustaceans are fully adapted to live inside the cavities of their hosts, which explains their small-sized and smooth bodies. Unlike most Odontonia species, which live inside solitary tunicates, the new species were the first ones to be associated with a colonial tunicate. These tunicates have even smaller internal cavities, which requires the shrimps to be even smaller than their close relatives.

One of the new species is named “bagginsi”, inspired by the famous Hobbit family name “Baggins” featured in the “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” books. The Hobbits possess hairy feet comparable to this species.

For the experts: Two new species of palaemonid shrimp associated with ascidian hosts, Odontonia bagginsi sp. n. from Tidore and Odontonia plurellicola sp. n., from Ternate, Indonesia are described and figured. Through phylogenetic analyses based on both morphological and molecular datasets (mitochondrial Cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene and the 16S mitochondrial ribosomal gene) of the genus Odontonia, the phylogenetic positions of the new species have been reconstructed. Scanning Electron Microscopy has been used to observe additional characters on dactyli of the ambulatory pereiopods. Odontonia plurellicola sp. n. appears to be more closely related to O. simplicipes and O. seychellensis, but it differs most notably in the morphology of the rostrum and mouthparts. Odontonia plurellicola sp. n. appears to be the only Odontonia species living inside a phlebobranch ascidian Plurella sp. Odontonia bagginsi sp. n. is closely related to O. sibogae, but differs markedly in the abundance of setae on the propodi of the ambulatory pereiopods. In the present paper, O. maldivensis Fransen, 2006 is regarded as a junior synonym of O. rufopunctata Fransen, 2002 based on both morphological and molecular aspects.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A new wasp: Ceraphron krogmanni

The family Ceraphronidae consists of some 360 known species of wasps. Scientists do believe that a great many species are yet to be described. In general little is known about this group. Most species are believed to be parasitoids of flies, but a few hyperparasitoids (parasitoid of a parasitoid) are also known. Many species are found in the soil, and of these, a good number are wingless.

The new species was collected in Germany and named after its collector, Lars Krogmann (Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart). 

For the experts: Male genitalia phenotypes of Ceraphron (Jurine, 1807) are informative for species delimitation, but due to their minute size, these characters have not been used extensively. Recent developments in visualisation techniques, e.g. confocal laser scanning microscopy and high resolution bright field imaging, allow for more thorough examination of these minute anatomical structures and the development of a robust, male genitalia-based taxonomic system. We also establish a character set, a template, that will facilitate future revisions of these wasps. Ceraphron krogmanni sp. nov. is described with outsized male genitalia and multiple diagnostic traits that are unique amongst Ceraphron species.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

A new plant: Hemiboea suiyangensis

The relatively unknown genus Hemiboea contains about 23 species of exotic plants all native to China and neighboring countries. Hemiboea is in the Gesneriaceae family making it a cousin to African violets, Gloxinia, and Sinningia.

The new species is named after the type locality, Suiyang County, Guizhou, China.

For the experts: The limestone areas in south China are a major biodiversity hotspot for terrestrial biomes. Hemiboea, with 34 species and 5 varieties, mainly distributed in south China, is one of the characteristic plant groups in limestone areas. Hemiboea suiyangensis, a new species of Gesneriaceae from limestone areas in Guizhou, China, is described and illustrated. The new species is easily distinguished from other Hemiboea species by having an oblique-infundibular corolla with an abaxially gibbous swelling on the upper half of the tube and with a densely villose throat and lower lobes. Hemiboea suiyangensis is similar to H. omeiensis W. T. Wang in the shape of the leaf blade, but differs from the latter by the shape of the petiole, involucre, calyx and corolla and the colour of the corolla. The conservation status of this species is considered to be “Critically Endangered” (CR) according to IUCN Red List Criteria.

Monday, June 4, 2018

A new springtail: Dicranocentrus hainanicus

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 was caught in China, Hainan Province. Its name refers to the origin.

For the experts: A new species, Dicranocentrus hainanicus Ren & Zhang, sp. n., is described from Hainan Province, China. Complete tergal chaetotaxy including microchaetae is illustrated and discussed. It is characterized by having the dental spines arranged in 2–3 rows, two inner teeth on unguis, 5, 2, 2 central macrochaetae on Abd. I–III, two inner S-chaetae on Abd. V displaced anteriorly, and the additional microchaetae associated with the S-chaeta acc.p6 on Th. II–Abd. II. It is most similar to D. chenae Ma, Chen & Soto-Adames but differs from the latter in the number and arrangement of dental spines and the absence of macrochaeta Pa1 on dorsal head. A key to the Chinese species of the genus is provided.

Friday, June 1, 2018

A new perchlet - Plectranthias ahiahiata

Rapa Nui (Easter Island) is the most isolated inhabited island in the Indo-Pacific, located approximately 3,700 km west of Chile and 2,000 km from the nearest inhabited island, Pitcairn. This isolation led to a very unique fauna surrounding the island. The likelihood of finding never before encountered and endemic species such as today's fish is very high.

Perchlets of the family  Anthiadinae are small beautiful fish. Their relatives (e.g. genus Anthias) are very famous in the ornamental fish trade. The name of this new species was given in reference to the beautiful Rapa Nui sunsets. The language is Rapa Nui; the phrase ahiahi-ata means “the last moments of light before nightfall.” 

For the experts: A new species of the perchlet genus Plectranthias is herein described from a single specimen found at Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in the South Pacific. Plectranthias ahiahiata sp. n. was collected at a depth of 83 m in a mesophotic coral ecosystem at Rapa Nui. The main difference between Plectranthias ahiahiata and other members of the genus is higher fin-ray counts (X, 18 dorsal; 18 pectoral) and its distinctive coloration. Compared to the three other known eastern South Pacific species, P. ahiahiata has more dorsal-fin rays, more pectoral-fin rays, fewer tubed lateral-line scales, fewer gill rakers, a longer head relative to SL, a very short first dorsal spine relative to SL, and a short third anal spine relative to SL. Plectranthias ahiahiata is distinguished from western Pacific species, by having more dorsal- and pectoral-fin rays. The closest relative based on genetic divergence (with 12.3% uncorrected divergence in the mitochondrial COI gene) is Plectranthias winniensis, a widely distributed species, suggesting important links between Rapa Nui and western Pacific islands. This new species adds to the high endemism of the Rapa Nui ichthyofauna, and is further evidence of the importance of mesophotic reefs as unique communities.