Saturday, August 31, 2013

[Herpetology • 2013] ปาดเรียวมลายู | Polypedates discantus | Malayan Slender Tree Frog • A New Tree Frog in the Genus Polypedates (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from Hatyai, Songkhla Province, southern Thailand

ปาดเรียวมลายู | Malayan Slender Tree Frog  
 Polypedates discantus Rujirawan, Stuart & Aowphol 2013

We describe a new species of Southeast Asian rhacophorid frog belonging to the Polypedates leucomystax species complex from Songkhla Province, southern Thailand. Polypedates discantus sp. nov. is distinguished from its congeners by the combination of having the skin of the head not co-ossified with the skull; absent or indistinct white dots on the back of the thigh; paired-vocal sac openings; and a round tubercle on the tibiotarsal articulation. The new species is also distinguished from P. leucomystax and P. megacephalus in univariate and multivariate analyses of quantitative morphometric characters, and has uncorrected pairwise distances of 6.61–7.16% from its closest relative, P. leucomystax, in the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene The new species has four distinct male advertisement call types, consisting of one-note, two-note, three-note and staccato calls. The new species occurs syntopically with P. leucomystax at the type locality.

Key words: Rhacophoridae; Polypedates; advertisement call; morphology; species complex; Thailand 

FIGURE 6. Polypedates discantus sp. nov. holotype (ZMKU AM 00992) in life.(A) rear of right thigh, (B) ventral view of right hand, and (C) ventral view of right foot. Scale bar = 5 mm.

Polypedates discantus sp. nov.
Polypedates leucomystax “Morph B” Narins, Feng, Yong and Christensen-Dalsgaard, 1998: 129.
Polypedates sp. “Malay Clade” Kuraishi, Matsui, Hamidy, Belabut, Ahmad, Panha, Sudin, Yong, Jiang, Ota, Thong and Nishikawa, 2013: 1.

Holotype: ZMKU AM 00992, adult male, collected at Thung Tam Sao, Hat Yai District, Songkhla
Province, Thailand, on 15 November 2012 with advertisement calls recorded at 18.35h at 28.4 °C by Anchalee Aowphol, Attapol Rujirawan, Siriporn Yodthong, Korkhwan Termprayoon, and Natee Ampai.

Etymology. The specific epithet discantus taken from dis L. for separate and cantus L. for song, in reference to the new species’ differing call from the syntopic P. leucomystax.
Suggested common name. Malayan slender tree frog (English). ปาดเรียวมลายู: Paad-Reaw-Ma-La-Ewu (Thai), taken from Paad for tree frog, Reaw for slender, Ma-La-Ewu for Malayan.

ปาดเรียวมลายู | Malayan Slender Tree Frog  | Polypedates discantus
photo by V.Lauhachinda:  554231751308544

Malayan Slender Tree Frog  | Polypedates discantus
male from Wang Prachan, Thai-Malay border
photo by P. Pawangkhanant: 10201387063430364

Rujirawan, Attapol, Bryan L. Stuart & Anchalee Aowphol. 2013. A New Tree Frog in the Genus Polypedates (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from southern Thailand. Zootaxa. 3702(6): 545–565. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3702.6.3

[Ichthyology • 2009] ปลาค้างคาวคุณสืบ | Oreoglanis nakasathieni • a new Torrent Catfish Genus Oreoglanis (Teleostei: Sisoridae) from northern Thailand

photo: N. Panitvong

ปลาค้างคาวคุณสืบ Oreoglanis nakasathieni Vidthayanon, Saenjundaeng & Ng, 2009
 ปลาเฉพาะถิ่นของลุ่มน้ำแม่แตง พบในเขตรักษาพันธุ์สัตว์ป่าดอยเชียงดาวและใกล้เคียงเท่านั้น
ตั้งชื่อเพื่อเป็นเกียรติแก่ สืบ นาคะเสถียร (พ.ศ. 2492 - 2533)

"In honor to the late Mr. Seub Nakasathian (1949 - 1990), the Thai wildlife biologist who devoted his life for wildlife research and awareness rising on conservation and management of Thai Western Forest Complex."


We describe eight new species of the sisorid catfish genus Oreoglanis from the Chao Phraya, Mekong and Salween river drainages in northern and western Thailand. The new species are diagnosed by a combination of morphology of maxillary-barbel tip, lower-lip morphology, extent of pectoral fin, fusion of the adipose fin with the upper procurrent caudal-fin rays, caudal-fin morphology, and the relative proportions of the head, snout, nasal barbel, interorbital distance, eye, body depth at anus, adipose fin, caudal peduncle and post-adipose distance. The taxonomy of O. pumatensis, a poorly known species from Vietnam is also discussed; it is considered a junior subjective synonym of O. infulatus here.

Original description:
Vidthayanon, C., Saenjundaeng, P., and Ng, H. H. 2009. Eight new species of the Torrent Catfish Genus Oreoglanis (Teleostei: Sisoridae) from Thailand. Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters. 14: 127-156.

[Mammalogy • 2007] Kerivoula krauensis | ค้างคาวยอดกล้วยหลังสีทอง | Krau Woolly Bat • A new species of Kerivoula (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) from peninsular Malaysia

Kerivoula krauensis : Krau Woolly Bat

A new species of small Kerivoula is described from peninsular Malaysia. It is similar in size and form to Kerivoula hardwickii Miller 1898 or K. intermedia Hill and Francis 1984, but is distinguished by its distinctive colouration — dorsal fur has extensive black bases with shiny golden tips, ventral fur has dark grey bases with whitish-buff tips — as well as several characters of dentition and skull shape. Sequence analysis of the first 648 base pairs of cytochrome oxidase I gene (DNA barcode) indicates a divergence of at least 11% from all other species of Kerivoula, a difference comparable to that between other species of Kerivoula.

Keywords: DNA barcode, Kerivoula, new species, Malaysia

Kerivoula krauensis was discovered for the first time in the 1990s in Krau Wildlife Reserve, Peninsular Malaysia. In 2007 it was officially described and given the name K. krauensis. When “ensis” is added to a name it means that the animal is from, or belongs to that place. So Kerivoula krauensis is the Kerivoula belonging to, or from Krau. So far it has only been found in Krau Wildlife Reserve, so it would be described as endemic to Krau, although there are some recent possible records from Borneo and Sumatra.

Charles M. Francis, Tigga Kingston & Akbar Zubaid. 2007. A new species of Kerivoula (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) from peninsular Malaysia. Acta Chiropterologica. 9(1):1-12. doi:[1:ANSOKC]2.0.CO;2

[Paleontology • 2013] Brasilotitan nemophagus • A New Titanosaur Sauropod from the Late Cretaceous of Brazil

Brasilotitan nemophagus
Machado, Avilla, Nava, Campos & Kellner 2013

A new titanosaur dinosaur, Brasilotitan nemophagus gen. et sp. nov., is described from the Adamantina Formation (Turonian-Santonian, Bauru Basin). The specimen consists of a dentary, cervical and sacral vertebrae, one ungual and remains of the pelvic region, that were collected near Presidente Prudente city, São Paulo State. It shows a mandible with an ‘L’ shaped morphology, with the symphyseal region of the dentary slightly twisted medially, a feature never recorded before in a titanosaur. Brasilotitan nemophagus can be further separated from other members of this clade by: (1) the dorsal portion of the dentary symphyseal contact is broader anteroposteriorly than the ventral part; (2) the ventral portion of the cervical centrum is arched dorsally; (3) the presence of an anteriorly directed accessory prezygapophyseal articulation surface on the cervical vertebrae; (4) the intraprezygapophyseal laminae of the cervical vertebrae are ‘V’ shaped in dorsal view; and other features. Although the phylogenetic position of Brasilotitan nemophagus is difficult to establish, the new species is neither a basal nor a derived member of the Titanosauria and, based on the lower jaw morphology, appears to be closely related to Antarctosaurus wichmannianus and Bonitasaura salgadoi. This discovery enriches the titanosaur diversity of Brazil and further provides new anatomical information on the lower jaws of those herbivorous dinosaurs.

Key words: Dinosauria, Titanosauria, Brasilotitan, Bauru Basin

Except for one diplodocoid (Carvalho et al. 2003), all other named sauropod dinosaurs from Brazil belong to the clade Titanosauria, a rather diversified Cretaceous group of herbivorous sauropod dinosaurs that are mainly found in parts of Gondwana (González Riga et al. 2009; Bittencourt & Langer 2011). At present, eight named titanosaur species from Brazilian deposits are considered valid (Kellner & Campos 2000; Santucci & Arruda-Campos 2011; Mannion & Otero 2012). Besides the exceptional skull of Tapuiasaurus macedoi Zaer et al., 2011 and the partial upper jaw of Maxakalisaurus topai Kellner et al., 2006, all other taxa lack cranial elements.

Here we present the description of a new species, Brasilotitan nemophagus gen. et sp. nov., which is based on an incomplete lower jaw and postcranial elements. The specimen was collected by one of us (WRN) in the year 2000 at the Raposo Tavares state road, near Presidente Prudente city, São Paulo State. At this region, the main stratigraphic unit is the Late Cretaceous Adamantina Formation whose age is disputed, being regarded as Turonian Santonian (Dias Brito et al. 2001) or Campanian-Maastrichtian (Gobbo Rodrigues et al. 1999).


Elaine B. Machado, Leonardo dos S. Avilla, William R. Nava, Diogenes de A. Campos and Alexander W. A. Kellner. 2013. A New Titanosaur Sauropod from the Late Cretaceous of Brazil. Zootaxa. 3701(3): 301–321

Friday, August 30, 2013

[Cetology / Behaviour • 2013] Spontaneous Ejaculation in a Wild Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops aduncus off Mikura Island, Japan

Figure 1. Spontaneous ejaculation by a wild Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin off Mikura Island, Japan.(A) Dense seminal fluid was ejaculated from the tip of the penis with initial contraction of the peduncle muscle downward. (B) A few seconds after the first ejaculation of seminal fluid, the remaining seminal fluid was ejaculated for 0.86 s

Spontaneous ejaculation, which is defined as the release of seminal fluids without apparent sexual stimulation, has been documented in boreoeutherian mammals. Here we report spontaneous ejaculation in a wild Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus), and present a video of this rare behavior. This is the first report of spontaneous ejaculation by an aquatic mammal, and the first video of this behavior in animals to be published in a scientific journal.

 Morisaka T, Sakai M, Kogi K, Nakasuji A, Sakakibara K, et al. 2013. Spontaneous Ejaculation in a Wild Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops aduncus). PLoS ONE 8(8): e72879. doi:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

[Ecology / Marine ecosystem • 2013] Recovery of a Top Predator mediates negative Eutrophic Effects on Seagrass | Sea Otters Enhydra lutris Promote Recovery of Seagrass Beds (eelgrass) Zostera marina

Crabs are a favorite prey item for sea otters Enhydra lutris in Elkhorn Slough.
Photo by Ron Eby

Fig. 2. (A) Interaction web of top-down and bottom-up effects in the eelgrass study system. The top predator is the sea otter (E. lutris), the mesopredators are crabs (Cancer spp. and Pugettia producta), the epiphyte mesograzers are primarily an isopod (I. resecata) and a sea slug (P. taylori), and algal epiphyte competitors of eelgrass primarily consist of chain-forming diatoms, and the red alga Smithora naiadum.

A fundamental goal of the study of ecology is to determine the drivers of habitat-forming vegetation, with much emphasis given to the relative importance to vegetation of “bottom-up” forces such as the role of nutrients and “top-down” forces such as the influence of herbivores and their predators. For coastal vegetation (e.g., kelp, seagrass, marsh, and mangroves) it has been well demonstrated that alterations to bottom-up forcing can cause major disturbances leading to loss of dominant vegetation. One such process is anthropogenic nutrient loading, which can lead to major changes in the abundance and species composition of primary producers, ultimately affecting important ecosystem services. In contrast, much less is known about the relative importance of apex predators on coastal vegetated ecosystems because most top predator populations have been depleted or lost completely. Here we provide evidence that an unusual four-level trophic cascade applies in one such system, whereby a top predator mitigates the bottom-up influences of nutrient loading. In a study of seagrass beds in an estuarine ecosystem exposed to extreme nutrient loading, we use a combination of a 50-y time series analysis, spatial comparisons, and mesocosm and field experiments to demonstrate that sea otters (Enhydra lutris) promote the growth and expansion of eelgrass (Zostera marina) through a trophic cascade, counteracting the negative effects of agriculturally induced nutrient loading. Our results add to a small but growing body of literature illustrating that significant interactions between bottom-up and top-down forces occur, in this case with consequences for the conservation of valued ecosystem services provided by seagrass.

Keywords: eutrophication, food web, estuary, resilience

Eelgrass beds in Elkhorn Slough benefit from the presence of sea otters.
Photo by Ron Eby
Both sea slugs and Idotea (the crustacean between the two sea slugs above) feed on algae and increase in numbers when the crab population is controlled by sea otters.
Photo by Brent Hughes


Brent B. Hughes, Ron Eby, Eric Van Dyke, M. Tim Tinker, Corina I. Marks, Kenneth S. Johnsone and Kerstin Wasson. 2013. Recovery of a Top Predator mediates negative Eutrophic Effects on Seagrass. PNAS.

Sea Otters Promote Recovery of Seagrass Beds
— Scientists studying the decline and recovery of seagrass beds in one of California's largest estuaries have found that recolonization of the estuary by sea otters was a crucial factor in the seagrass comeback. Led by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

[Ichthyology • 2013] Sphyrna gilberti | Carolina Hammerhead • A New Hammerhead Shark (Carcharhiniformes, Sphyrnidae) from the western Atlantic Ocean

Carolina Hammerhead Sphyrna gilberti Quattro, Iii & Grady 2013

Sphyrna gilberti sp. nov. is described based on 54 specimens collected in the coastal waters of South Carolina, U.S.A. Morphologically, Sgilberti sp. nov. is separable from S. lewini (Griffith & Smith 1834) only in the number of precaudal vertebrae. Due to rarity of specimens and the highly migratory behavior of most sphyrnids, the range of Sgilberti sp. nov. is unknown.

Key words: Carolina hammerhead, cartilaginous fishes, Chondrichthyes, cryptic species, Elasmobranchii

New Hammerhead Shark Species Found in U.S. 

2006: Photo in the News:

Carolina hammerhead, thought to reach 11 feet long and weigh about 400 pounds, has been identified cruising the waters at Bull’s Bay north of Charleston, St. Helena Sound near Beaufort and in the Charleston harbor.
(AP Photo/NOAA Fisheries via The State)

Quattro, Joseph M., William B. D. Iii & James M. Grady. 2013. Sphyrna gilberti sp. nov., a new hammerhead shark (Carcharhiniformes, Sphyrnidae) from the western Atlantic Ocean. Zootaxa. 3702(2): 159-178.

Newly discovered hammerhead shark patrols SC waters

[Ichthyology • 2013] Akawaio penak • a new genus and species of Neotropical electric fish (Gymnotiformes, Hypopomidae) endemic to the upper Mazaruni River in the Guiana Shield

Akawaio penak Maldonado-Ocampo, López-Fernández, Taphorn, Bernard, Crampton & Lovejoy 2013

Akawaio penak, a new genus and species, is described from the upper Mazaruni River, Guyana. The new species is diagnosed from all other species of Hypopomidae by several anatomical traits. The phylogenetic affinities of the new genus were inferred using data from one nuclear (rag2) and two mitochondrial (COI and cyt b) genes. The phylogenetic analyses indicate that Akawaio is the sister taxon of a clade that includes Brachyhypopomus, Hypopomus, Microsternarchus and Racenisia. These results provide evidence for the phylogenetic composition of Hypopomidae supported by previous molecular studies and support the position of the Steatogenini (Hypopygus + Steatogenys) as the sister group of Rhamphichthys + Gymnorhamphichthys. The description of this new electric knifefish increases the total number of endemic genera and species in the upper Mazaruni, a region that is suffering freshwater habitat degradation as consequence of gold-mining activities.

Akawaio gen. n
Akawaio penak sp. n. 

Holotype: CSBD 1654 (208 mm TL), Guyana, Zone 7, Kamarang, Mazaruni River.

Etymology: This genus is named in honour of the Akawaio Amerindians that populate the region of the upper Mazaruni and to recognize their valuable help while studying the fishes of their lands. To be regarded as a masculine noun. The species name is from the Akawaio name ‘penak’, which is apparently used unambiguously for this species. To be regarded as a masculine noun in apposition.

Ecological notes: Akawaio penak was captured both in the main channel and in tributaries of the upper Mazaruni River. Specimens from the Mazaruni River main channel and from Membaru Creek were captured at night on beaches resulting from artificial accumulation of sand and pebbles that are the by-product of gold-mining dredging. These individuals were captured at depths of no more than 1 m and were presumably feeding. In contrast, the Waruma River specimens were captured during the day in hiding places in the banks of a shallow backwater pool. Specimens in the main channel were exposed to slow current in a relatively calm but open beach without structure, whereas the Membaru and Waruma specimens were found in habitats with structure consisting of some submerged woody debris and vegetation. In all three localities where the species was found, the water was black to reddish black with pH ranging from 4.4 to 4.8, temperature of 22–23.5 °C and conductivity <10 μS.

Distribution: Akawaio penak is presently known only from the main channel of the upper Mazaruni River, the mouth of the Kamarang River and Waruma Creek: a small tributary of the Kako River, which in turn is a major tributary of the upper Mazaruni. This disjunct distribution suggests that A. penak has a broader distribution within the upper Mazaruni drainage, but further collections are necessary to ascertain how widespread the species is.

Javier A. Maldonado-Ocampo, Hernán López-Fernández, Donald C. Taphorn, Calvin R. Bernard, William G. R. Crampton and Nathan R. Lovejoy. 2013. Akawaio penak, a new genus and species of Neotropical electric fish (Gymnotiformes, Hypopomidae) endemic to the upper Mazaruni River in the Guiana Shield. Zoologica Scripta. DOI:

Monday, August 26, 2013

[Botany • 2013] Bergbambos & Oldeania • new genera of temperate Bamboos in the tribe Arundinarieae (Poaceae, Bambusoideae) from Africa

African bamboo Bergbambos tessellata
photo: Chris Stapleton.


Two new monotypic genera, Bergbambos and Oldeania are described for African temperate bamboo species in the tribe Arundinarieae, after a comparison of their morphological characteristics with those of similar species from Asia. Morphological differences are supported by their isolated geographical distributions. Molecular evidence does not support the inclusion of these species in related Asian genera, recognising them instead as distinct lineages. New combinations Bergbambos tessellata and Oldeania alpina are made.

Keywords: Thamnocalamus, Yushania, Arundinarieae, new genus, Africa

Yushania alpina A tall culms arising separately, Rwenzori, Uganda photo: Peter Gill

Bergbambos Stapleton, gen. nov.
Type: Bergbambos tessellata (Nees) Stapleton comb. nov.
Basionym: Nastus tessellatus Nees, Arundinaria tessellata (Nees) Munro; Thamnocalamus tessellatus (Nees) Soderstrom & R.P. Ellis.

Name Bergbambos from the Afrikaans name (Bergbamboes) in South Africa.
This genus would appear to be monotypic, confined to the mountains of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.

Oldeania Stapleton, gen. nov. 
Type: Oldeania alpina (K. Schum.) Stapleton comb. nov. 
Basionym: Arundinaria alpina K. Schum. Sinarundinaria alpina (K. Schum.) C.S. Chao & Renvoize; Yushania alpina (K. Schum.) W.C. Lin. 

Name Oldeania from the Maasai common name (Oldeani) in Tanzania.
Currently only the type species can be reliably placed in the genus, which thus has a distribution across tropical Africa from Cameroon in the west to E Africa, where it occurs from Ethiopia south to Tanzania. There is a possibility that species from Madagascar will be placed in this genus when they are better known, but they may be conspecific or even introduced. It provides important montane wildlife habitats and food, notably for the critically endangered Mountain Gorilla, Gorilla beringei beringei.
The holotype, G.A. Fischer 672, was destroyed by fire during the 1939–1945 World War. No trace of the type collection or any duplicate has been found in surviving components of the Berlin collections, nor in other herbaria, including the Hamburg collections taken to Russia and recently repatriated (Poppendieck pers. comm.). The likelihood of substantial infraspecific variation, the possibility of further species, and the lack of other collections from the type locality together make it inadvisable to select a neotype or epitype until new collections have been made.

Two New Bamboo Genera Found in Africa
Biologist Dr Chris Stapleton from the United Kingdom has described two new genera of African mountain bamboos.

Chris Stapleton. 2013. Bergbambos and Oldeania, new genera of African bamboos (Poaceae, Bambusoideae). PhytoKeys. 25: 87-103; doi:

Friday, August 23, 2013

[Primatology / Behaviour • 2013] Communal Nesting, Kinship, and Maternal Success in a Social Primate | Crèche Behavior in Black-And-White Ruffed Lemur Varecia variegata

Research shows it is easier for female ruffed lemurs to raise their young using a system of communal nesting and crèches.
photo: Omika / Fotolia
Communal nesting, where several mothers regularly pool and cooperatively rear offspring, is unusual in mammals. This type of crèching behavior is especially rare among primates, with the notable exceptions of humans, some nocturnal strepsirrhines, and—as we show in this study—black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata). Here, we combine data on nesting behavior, genetic relatedness, and infant survivorship to describe variation in ruffed lemur infant care and to examine the potential benefits of ruffed lemur communal breeding. Reproductive events were rare, and females produced litters (synchronously) only once in 6 years of observation. We show that not all mothers participate in communal crèches, but those that did had greater maternal success; communal breeders spent more time feeding and their offspring were more likely to survive. Although cooperating mothers were often related, females also cooperated with non-kin, and those who shared infant care responsibilities had greater maternal success than mothers who did not participate. If there is indeed a causal link between maternal cooperation and reproductive success, this unusual behavior, like that of human communal rearing, may have evolved via some combination of kin selection and mutualism.

Keywords: Reproductive success, Communal breeding, Crèching behavior, Lemurs, Allomaternal care

Infant black-and-white ruffed lemur.
Photo by Andrea Baden.

'Nursery Nests' Are Better for Survival of Young Black-And-White Ruffed Lemurs
— Research shows it is easier for female ruffed lemurs to raise their young using a system of communal nesting and crèches.

Young Malagasy black-and-white ruffed lemurs are more likely to survive when they are raised in communal crèches or “nursery nests" in which their mothers share the draining responsibility of feeding and caring for their offspring. This is according to anthropological research on lemur infant care by Andrea Baden and colleagues of Yale University. The study, published in Springer’s journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, describes a rare case in which fitness differences, such as infant survival, between cooperative and non-cooperative lemurs are observed.

Baden and her team studied eight female black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata) in the Ranomafana National Park in Madagascar who only once reproduced large litters during the six consecutive years of observation. Combined data on their nesting behavior, genetic relatedness and the survival of infants showed a positive relationship between crèche-use, a mother’s time spent feeding and infant survival.

Ruffed lemurs are large-bodied and gregarious primates with slow life histories that form social communities to cooperatively help defend territory. They are the only diurnal non-human primates who bear litters of altricial or undeveloped offspring. This means that, as in humans, newborn ruffed lemurs need special care and feeding. Newborns, for instance, cannot yet cling to their mothers at birth, which makes travel together in the forest canopy impossible. This places a specific energy burden on the mother, who provides exclusive care for the first six weeks of her infants’ lives and therefore has less time to spend on feeding and foraging.

Only a small percentage of female ruffed lemurs opt for solitary brooding and raise their young on their own. The others participate in communal nesting, breeding and babysitting in which several mothers regularly pool resources to cooperatively rear their offspring until they are about 10 weeks of age and are capable of independent travel. This method of infant care is unusual in mammals, and especially among primates, with the most notable exceptions being humans and some nocturnal primates of the suborder Strepsirrhini.

Black-and-white ruffed lemur Varecia variegata variegata in a tree.

Communal nesting allowed female ruffed lemurs to spend less time at their nests and gave them more opportunity to feed elsewhere than was possible for single nesting females. Infant survival was also significantly higher the more this crèche system was used. Genetic tests showed that cooperation was common among kin, but not exclusively so. This is the same as with humans and several other communally breeding birds and mammals.

“Kinship may have helped the evolution of cooperative breeding in primates, but the mutual benefits may outweigh the costs of helping, irrespective of any family relationships,” says Baden, who believes that the current research sheds light on understanding just how communal breeding evolved. “Our results contribute to a growing body of evidence suggesting that kin selection alone cannot explain the extensive cooperation observed in many animal taxa.”

Baden A.L., Wright, P.C., Louis E.L., Bradley B.J. 2013. Communal Nesting, Kinship, and Maternal Duccess in a Social Primate. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

[Herpetology • 2013] Sphenomorphus apalpebratus • A Spectacled Sphenomorphus (Squamata: Scincidae), from the Sacred Forests of Mawphlang, Meghalaya, North-east India

Sphenomorphus apalpebratus  A new species of skink from the Northeastern region of India. This cool species differs from all other Sphenomorphus in showing a lack of movable eyelids and the presence of a spectacle (or 'brille') permanently covering the eye. Its found really high up on the Khasi hills (>1800 m).

A new species of lygosomatine scincid lizard is described from the sacred forests of Mawphlang, in Meghalaya, northeastern India. Sphenomorphus apalpebratus sp. nov. possesses a spectacle or brille, an unusual feature within the Scincidae, and a first for the paraphyletic genus Sphenomorphus. The new species is compared with other members of the genus to which it is here assigned, as well as to members of the lygosomatine genera Lipinia and Scincella from mainland India, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and south-east Asia, to which it also bears resemblance. The new taxon is diagnosable in exhibiting the following combination of characters: small body size (SVL to 42.0 mm); moveable eyelids absent; auricular opening scaleless, situated in a shallow depression; dorsal scales show a line of demarcation along posterior edge of ventral pes; midbody scale rows 27–28; longitudinal scale rows between parietals and base of tail 62–64; lamellae under toe IV 8–9; supraoculars five; supralabials 5–6; infralabials 4–5; subcaudals 92; and dorsum golden brown, except at dorsal margin of lateral line, which is lighter, with four faintly spotted lines, two along each side of vertebral row of scales, that extend to tail base. The new species differs from its congeners in the lack of moveable eyelids, a character shared with several distantly related scincid genera.

Key words: Squamata, Sauria, Scincidae, Sphenomorphus, new species, phylogenetic relationships, Meghalaya, India

photo: Aniruddha Datta-Roy 

Datta-Roy, Aniruddha, Indraneil DAS, Aaron M. Bauer, Ronald K. L. Tron & Praveen Karanth. 2013. Lizard Wears Shades. A Spectacled  Sphenomorphus (Squamata: Scincidae), from the Sacred Forests of Mawphlang, Meghalaya, North-east India. Zootaxa. 3701 (2): 257-276. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3701.2.7

Monday, August 19, 2013

[Herpetology • 2013] Rhacophorus borneensis | Bornean Smaller Gliding Frog • a New Gliding Frog in Rhacophorus reinwardtii group (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from Borneo

Rhacophorus borneensis
Bornean Smaller Gliding Frog
Matsui M, Shimada T & Sudin A. 2013. 
Curr. Herpetol. DOI: 10.5358/hsj.32.11

A rhacophorid frog from Borneo is divergent genetically and morphologically from Javanese R. reinwardtii, with which it was formerly confused, and is recognized as a distinct species. The frog differs from R. reinwardtii by an immaculate green dorsum and a black posterior thigh surface, which is studded with sky blue spots in the female. Because the frog is also divergent genetically and morphologically from the other congeners recently split from Rreinwardtii, we describe it as a new species, R. borneensis.

 Keywords: New species, MtDNA phylogeny, Rhacophorus reinwardtii, Borneo, Taxonomy

Rhacophorus borneensis sp. nov.
Bornean Smaller Gliding Frog

Rhacophorus reinwardtii Inger and Stuebing, 1997: 194 (part); Chan and Grismer, 2010: 43 (part).

Etymology: The specific name refers to the island of Borneo, where the new species was found.

Range: Known from the type locality, Camel Trophy of the Maliau Basin Conservation Area, Sandakan Division, State of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo; Batang Ai, State of Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo (Chan and Grismer, 2010).

Rhacophorus borneensis Matsui, Shimada & Sudin, 2013
photo: George Madani

Natural History: In Camel Trophy, an amplectant pair of the type specimens were found at night perching on a tree branch (<1 m) extending above the surface of a shallow pool (3–5 m×10 m). The air temperature before the time of finding was 24C. No tadpoles or eggs were found in the pond and calling males were absent in early March. Frogs found associated with R. borneensis included Kurixalus appendiculatus (Günther, 1858), Polypedates macrotis (Boulenger, 1891), Chiromantis sp., and M. petrigena Inger and Frogner, 1979.

Matsui M, Shimada T & Sudin A. 2013. A New Gliding Frog of the Genus Rhacophorus from Borneo. Curr. Herpetol. 32 (2): 112-124. DOI: 10.5358/hsj.32.11

Chan, K.-O. & Grismer, L. L. 2010. Reassessment of the Reinwardt’s Gliding Frog, Rhacophorus reinwardtii (Schlegel 1840) (Anura: Rhacophoridae) in Southern Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia and its re-description as a new species. Zootaxa. 2505: 40–50.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

[PaleoMammalogy • 2013] A review of the Cainozoic small mammal fauna of Thailand with new records (Chiroptera; Scandentia; Eulipotyphla) from the late Pleistocene / with an extinct bat species new to science, Eptesicus chutamasae | Chutamas’s Serotine | ค้างคาวท้องสีน้ำตาลอาจารย์จุฑามาส, from peninsular Thailand

Chutamas’s Serotine | Eptesicus chutamasae Harrison & Pearch 2013

In October 2010, a team comprising scientists from The Prince of Songkla University in southern Thailand and the Harrison Institute in the United Kingdom collected samples of a fossiliferous deposit in Khao Kao Cave, which is situated in an Ordovician limestone hill range in Thailand’s Songkhla Province. Analysis of the numerous teeth, jaws, and other bones present in the samples has resulted in the identification of fifteen species of small mammal representing the orders Chiroptera, Scandentia and Eulipotyphla, all but one known from the living fauna. Eleven of the species are recorded for the first time from the Pleistocene of Thailand including an extinct bat species new to science, which is described.Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating of the deposit indicates a late Pleistocene age of 16.35 ± 2.67 Ka, although a small number of rogue grains among the mineral population suggests the presence of material older than 200 Ka. The history of fossil small mammal research in Thailand is summarised.

Key words: Chiroptera, Scandentia, Eulipotyphla, Thailand, Pleistocene, Eptesicus sp. nov., new records, OSL dating

Eptesicus chutamasae Harrison & Pearch, sp. nov.
Chutamas’s Serotine | ค้างคาวท้องสีน้ำตาลอาจารย์จุฑามาส 

Type locality – Khao Kao Cave, Songkhla Province, Thailand.
Stratum typicum Calcified cave deposit (late Pleistocene).
Etymology – We name this taxon in honour of Prof. Chutamas Satasook, Dean of the Faculty of Science at the Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Thailand.

M.J. Pearch, S. Bumrungsri, J.-L. Schwenninger, D.J. Ward & D.L. Harrison. 2013. A review of the Cainozoic small mammal fauna of Thailand with new records (Chiroptera; Scandentia; Eulipotyphla) from the late Pleistocene. Cainozoic Research. 10(1-2); 59-98.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

[Botany • 2013] Winitia gen. nov. • Integrative systematics supports the establishment of Winitia, a new genus of Annonaceae (Malmeoideae, Miliuseae), allied to Stelechocarpus and Sageraea, from Thai - Malaysia peninsula

Winitia expansa Chaowasku
photo: Nonn Panitvong

The generic circumscriptions of Stelechocarpus and Sageraea (Annonaceae) are assessed using molecular phylogenetic, macromorphological, and pollen morphological evidence. For molecular phylogenetic analysis the combined seven plastid markers: rbcL exon, trnL intron, trnL-F spacer, matK exon, ndhF exon, psbA-trnH spacer, and ycf1 exon constituting c. 7 kb are used. The results corroborate the recognition of a maximally supported clade as a new genus, Winitia. It is weakly to moderately supported as sister to Stelechocarpus burahol, the type and only species of Stelechocarpus. A clade consisting of Winitia and Stelechocarpus is strongly supported as sister to Sageraea, which is monophyletic with strong support. Winitia consists of two species, one of which (W. expansa) is proposed as a new species endemic to Thailand, whereas one new combination (W. cauliflora) is made. The new genus is primarily characterized by (1) multicolumellar stigmas (≥ 5 columns per stigma) and (2) pollen grains with a very thin tectum, a more or less columellate/coarsely granular infratectum, and a very distinct basal layer. The macromorphology and pollen morphology of the three genera (Stelechocarpus, Winitia, and Sageraea) are highlighted.

Key words: Annonaceae, Miliuseae, molecular phylogenetics, morphology, nomenclature, palynology, Sageraea , Stelechocarpus , taxonomy, Winitia

งำเงาะ Winitia cauliflora (syn.: Stelechocarpus cauliflorus)

Winitia Chaowasku, gen. nov.
Type Species: Winitia expansa Chaowasku, sp. nov.
Etymology: The genus name is to honour Phraya Winit Wanandorn, who has been praised as the ‘father’ of Thai Botany.
Distribution: Two species occurring in Vietnam, southern Thailand through Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra?, and Borneo.

Key to the species of Winitia
1a. Flowers mostly clustered on the swollen base of the trunk, pedicels 12.0–22.0 mm long, inner petals moderately spreading at maturity, adaxial side of both inner and outer petals glaucous, each stigma with 7–9(–10) columns……………… W. expansa sp. nov.
1b. Flowers usually clustered (on knobs) along the trunk, pedicels usually ≥ 30.0 mm long, inner petals connivent at maturity, no glaucous appearance observed on adaxial side of either petal whorl, each stigma with 5–7 columns…………… W. cauliflora comb. nov.

Winitia expansa Chaowasku, sp. nov.
Etymology: The epithet refers to the moderately spreading inner petals at maturity.
Distribution: peninsular Thailand

Winitia cauliflora (Scheff.) Chaowasku, comb. nov. 
 syn.: Stelechocarpus cauliflorus (Scheff.) J. Sinclair 
Distribution: Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo
(Sarawak, West- and East-Kalimantan).

Tanawat Chaowasku & Raymond W.J.M. Van Der Ham. 2013. Integrative systematics supports the establishment of Winitia, a new genus of Annonaceae (Malmeoideae, Miliuseae) allied to Stelechocarpus and Sageraea. Systematics and Biodiversity. 11 (2), 195-207. 

 สกุล Winitia สกุลใหม่ล่าสุด พรรณไม้วงศ์กระดังงา (Annonaceae) |

[Herpetology • 2013] Ichthyophis pauli • A New Striped Ichthyophis (Amphibia: Gymnophiona) from Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah, East Malaysia (Malaysian Borneo)

Ichthyophis pauli
Nishikawa, Matsui, Sudin & Wong 2013

A new striped Ichthyophis is described based on one adult male collected from the southeastern slope of Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah, East Malaysia. The new species is characterized by the absence of yellow marking on the jaw angle and the presence of a lateral stripe on most of the collar region, and is distinguished from all other striped congeners by a combination of characters that includes body size and proportion, position of tentacles, shape of annular grooves, and number of annuli, scale rows, and splenial teeth. The anterior phallodeum morphology is also described for the new species.

Keywords: Caecilian, Ichthyophis, New species, Mt. Kinabalu, Borneo

K. Nishikawa, M. Matsui, A. Sudin, and A. Wong. 2013. A New Striped Ichthyophis (Amphibia: Gymnophiona) from Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Current Herpetology. 32 (2), 159-169.

[Herpetology • 2012] Ichthyophis lakimi • A new unstriped Ichthyophis (Gymnophiona: Ichthyophiidae) from Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Ichthyophis lakimi
Nishikawa, Matsui & Yambun 2012

A new unstriped Ichthyophis is described based on one adult male and five larval specimens collected from the northwestern slope of Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. The new species is distinguished from all other unstriped congeners by a combination of characters that includes position of tentacles and number of annuli, scale rows, splenial teeth, and vertebrae. The anterior phallodeum morphology is described for the new species. The evolution of large larvae of unstriped Ichthyophis is discussed briefly.

 Keywords: Caecilian, Ichthyophis, Taxonomy, New species, Borneo

Nishikawa K, Matsui M, Yambun P. 2012. A new unstriped Ichthyophis (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Ichthyophiidae) from Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Current Herpetology. 31: 67-77.

Friday, August 16, 2013

[PaleoMammalogy • 2013] Rugosodon eurasiaticus • Earliest Evolution of Multituberculate Mammals Revealed by a New Jurassic Fossil from China

Rugosodon eurasiaticus Yuan,  Ji,  Meng,  Tabrum & Luo 2013
lived 160-million years ago on the lakeshores of what is now China

Multituberculates were successful herbivorous mammals and were more diverse and numerically abundant than any other mammal groups in Mesozoic ecosystems. The clade also developed diverse locomotor adaptations in the Cretaceous and Paleogene. We report a new fossil skeleton from the Late Jurassic of China that belongs to the basalmost multituberculate family. Dental features of this new Jurassic multituberculate show omnivorous adaptation, and its well-preserved skeleton sheds light on ancestral skeletal features of all multituberculates, especially the highly mobile joints of the ankle, crucial for later evolutionary success of multituberculates in the Cretaceous and Paleogene.

A reconstruction of the extinct rodentlike creature, now called Rugosodon eurasiaticus, which lived 160-million years ago on the lakeshores of what is now China.
 Illustration by April Isch, University of Chicago

'Rugosodon' refers to the rugosity, or wrinkliness, of the mammal's distinctively shaped teeth.

For instance, multituberculates that lived 100 million years or more after R. eurasiaticus and were capable of tree climbing and jumping "had the most interesting ankle bones, capable of 'hyper-back-rotation' of the hind feet." Luo said. "What is surprising about this discovery is that these ankle features were already present in Rugosodon — a land-dwelling mammal."

The fossil of Rugosodon eurasiaticus is preserved in two shale slabs in part (left) and counterpart (right). It is about 6.5 inches (17 cm) long from head to rump, and is estimated to have weighed about 2.8 ounces (80 grams).
 Photographed by Zhe-Xi Luo of University of Chicago and Chongxi Yuan of Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences

Yuan, C.-X., Ji, Q., Meng, Q.-J., Tabrum, A. R. & Luo, Z.-X. 2013. Earliest Evolution of Multituberculate Mammals Revealed by a New Jurassic Fossil. Science. 341, 779–783. 

Fossil reveals features of mammal line that outlived dinosaurs
: Rodent-like animals were deft movers and flexible feeders.

Ancient Rodentlike Creature Once Dominated Earth