Tuesday, July 7, 2020

A new stalk-eyed fly: Teleopsis sorora

Stalk-eyed flies have eyestalks on which their eyes are mounted. These projections stick out from the sides of the head. Both males and females have eyestalks, but hey are much longer in males. Species are growing up to a cm in length and are known to feed on both decaying plants and animals.

Todays new species was found around Kandy, a major city in Sri Lanka. It is considered the sister species of Teleopsis ferruginea, hence the name sorora (sister).

For the experts: The literature on Sri Lankan Diopsidae is reviewed. Eight Diopsidae are now known to occur in Sri Lanka, five species in the genus Teleopsis and one species each in the genera Sphyracephala, Diopsis, and Cyrtodiopsis. The presence of Cyrtodiopsis requires confirmation to exclude the possibility of mislabelling. All five Teleopsis species are endemic, as are the Diopsis species and probably the Cyrtodiopsis species. Only Sphyracephala bipunctipennis Senior-White has a larger distribution as it also occurs in India. A key is presented for the Diopsidae of Sri Lanka. Three Teleopsis species were already known to occur in Sri Lanka: T. ferruginea Röder, T. krombeini Feijen and T. maculata Feijen. These species form the T. ferruginea species group. Two new species are now described for this group: Teleopsis neglecta sp. nov. and Teleopsis sorora sp. nov. Teleopsis ferruginea is redescribed, as an earlier redescription turned out to be based on a series of specimens of its sister species T. sorora sp. nov. The other three Diopsidae of Sri Lanka are listed and illustrated. Allometric aspects of the five Teleopsis species are discussed. Three Teleopsis species are sexually dimorphic with regard to eye span, while two species are monomorphic. It is assumed that sexual dimorphism developed independently in the T. ferruginea species group. This brings the number of known cases of independent development of sexual dimorphism in the Diopsidae to ten.

Monday, July 6, 2020

A new fish: Lucifuga gibarensis

Lucifuga is a genus of cusk-eels that give birth to young that developed within their mothers body.  Most of the species are native to caves and sinkholes in Cuba and the Bahamas. There is one exception, a species that was found in deep waters off the Galapagos Islands.

The new species was found in an isolated karst patch of marine caves in Eastern Cuba. It was named after the village of Gibara, where the three caves inhabited by this species are located.

For the experts: Recently, a barcoding study and a molecular phylogenetic analysis of the Cuban species of the cave-fish genus Lucifuga Poey, 1858 revealed the existence of different evolutionary lineages that were previously unknown or passed unnoticed by morphological scrutiny (i.e., cryptic candidate species). In the present study, Lucifuga gibarensis is described as a new species restricted to anchialine caves in the northeastern karst region of the main island. The species was earlier described as a variety of Lucifuga dentata, but since the name was introduced as a variety after 1960, it is deemed to be infrasubspecific and unavailable according to the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature Art. 15.2. The new species differs from L. dentata by pigmented eyes vs. eyes absent and lack of palatine teeth vs. present. Lucifuga gibarensis seems to be most similar to the Bahamian species L. lucayana by showing pigmented eyes, 13 or 14 precaudal vertebrae and ten caudal fin rays. However, differs from it by a larger size of the pigmented eye (1.1–1.9 vs. 0.9–1.0% SL) and number of posterior lateral line neuromasts (30–33 vs. 34–35).

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Two new carpenter bees: Xylocopa auriventris and Xylocopa romeroi

Carpenter bees got their name from their nesting behavior. Most of them burrow into hard plant material such as dead wood or bamboo and lay their eggs into the chamber. These bees are important pollinators for open-faced or shallow flowers. In fact for some species they are the only pollinators, e.g. for maypop (Passiflora incarnata) and Orphium. No other insect visits those.

Todays two new species were found in the Risaralda and the Valle del Cauca Departments of Colombia. 

Xylocopa auriventris was named after the colour of its abdomen (from the Latin words aureus (gold) and ventris (venter). The name Xylocopa romeroi honours the biologist Germán Villamizar Romero, father of the first author.

For the experts: A synopsis of the metallic carpenter bees Xylocopa subgenus Schonnherria Lepeletier in Colombia is presented. Eleven species were recognized: X. dimidiata Latreille, X. ecuadorica Cockerell, X. lateralis Say, X. lucida Smith, X. metallica Smith, X. muscaria (Fabricius), X. ornata Smith, X. viridis Smith, and X. simillima Smith, being this latter a new record for the country. In addition, two new species are described: X. auriventris n. sp. and X. romeroi n. sp. from the Colombian Andean and Pacific region, respectively. To stabilize the application of some names, lectotypes were designated for X. binotata Pérez (=X. lateralis), X. muscaria, X. ornata, X. simillima and X. viridis. Diagnoses, descriptions, comments, floral records, distribution maps, figures and an identification key are also provided.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

A (not so) new fish: Microcanthus joyceae

You might have seen this group of fishes in pictures and videos from coral reefs and sometimes in a reef aquarium although this would be a rather rare sight. They are called stripey for obvious reasons and are also known as footballer or convict fish. 

This species is re-described as the taxonomy of the genus Microcanthus has been debated for a long time. The original description is from 1931 and the name was chosen to honour Joyce K. Allan, who provided the author with illustrations of this species for the original description.

For the experts: The taxonomy and classification of the microcanthid fish genus Microcanthus Swainson has been a subject of contention dating back to the 19th century. Its allopatric, disjunct anti-equatorial distribution across the Indo-West Pacific has resulted in the recognition of several nominal taxa, though these have been widely regarded as synonyms of Microcanthus strigatus (Cuvier). Following the results published in a companion study elsewhere by the authors, the taxonomy of Microcanthus and the validity of these nominal synonyms are herewith revised. Microcanthus strigatus is redescribed on the basis of 66 specimens from East Asia, Hawaii and Western Australia, and M. joyceae is resurrected and redescribed on the basis of 25 specimens from eastern Australia and the southwest Pacific. Microcanthus differs from other microcanthid genera in having the following combination of characters: dorsal-fin rays XI,15–17 (usually XI,16); anal-fin rays III,13–15 (usually III,14); pectoral-fin rays 15–17 (usually 16); scales ctenoid with ctenial bases present; lateral-line scales partially or heavily obscured by adjacent scales; and body pale in preservation with five horizontal dark stripes reaching the posterior edges of dorsal and anal fins, and base of caudal fin. The review is accompanied by a key to the genera of Microcanthidae.

Monday, June 22, 2020

A new toad: Megophrys chishuiensis

A couple of months ago I posted about Litter frogs (Family Megophryidae) which live in South East Asia. They are mostly famous for their camouflage which makes many of them look like dead leaves. A widely known species is the long nosed horned frog. 

There is another new species from China this time found in the Chishui National Nature Reserve, Guizhou province. The species name refers to the location this species was found.

For the experts: A new species of the genus Megophrys is described from Guizhou Province, China. Molecular phylogenetic analyses based on mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA sequences all strongly supported the new species as an independent clade sister to M. minor and M. jiangi. The new species could be distinguished from its congeners by a combination of the following characters: body size moderate (SVL 43.4–44.1 mm in males, and 44.8–49.8 mm in females; vomerine teeth absent; tongue not notched behind; a small horn-like tubercle at the edge of each upper eyelid; tympanum distinctly visible, rounded; two metacarpal tubercles on palm; relative finger lengths II < I < V < III; toes without webbing; heels overlapping when thighs are positioned at right angles to the body; tibiotarsal articulation reaching the level between tympanum and eye when leg stretched forward; in breeding males, an internal single subgular vocal sac in male, and the nuptial pads with black spines on dorsal surface of bases of the first two fingers.

Monday, June 15, 2020

A new grass fern: Actinostachys minuta

The grass ferns (Schizaeaceae) are a family of ferns mainly found in the tropics. Most of them are rather small plants and the new species is a so-called epiphyte which means it grows on the trunk of a tree fern. It was found on Mindanao Island, Philippines. The species name refers to is small size even compared to other members of the genus. 

For the experts: Actinostachys minuta Amoroso & Coritico (Schizaeaceae), from Mindanao, Philippines, is described herein as a new species. This species is distinguished from all other species of Actinostachys (grass ferns) by its notably short and narrow fronds, distinct triangular stipe, and bifid apex of the sorophore lamina with profuse white long hairs. This species is distinct from the other known Philippine species of Actinostachys by its diminutive epiphytic habit and a habitat restricted to the trunks of the tree fern Sphaeropteris polypoda (Baker) R.M.Tryon. A taxonomic key to the species of Philippine Schizaeaceae that incorporates the new species is provided.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Two new spiders: Thelcticopis dahanensis and Thelcticopis unciformis

is a genus of huntsman spiders (family Sparassidae) that occurs almost exclusively in the Australasian region. Huntsman spiders are also known as giant crab spiders. Some of them can indeed grow quite large (up to 30 cm). The new species are not that large though and not known to be venomous (in contrast to some other huntsman spiders). Both were found in Taiwan.

One of the new species was named after the type locality and the other one after a shape of a part of the male palpal bulb

For the experts: Two new species of the genus Thelcticopis Karsch, 1884, T. dahanensis Zhu & Zhong, sp. nov. (♂) and T. unciformis Zhu & Zhong, sp. nov. (♂), are described and figured from Taiwan Island. Thelcticopis severa (L. Koch, 1875) is recorded from Guangdong and Fujian provinces for the first time. So far, Thelcticopis, including four species from China, is mainly distributed in the tropical or subtropical areas of China (Hainan, Taiwan, Yunnan, Guangdong, Fujian).