Tuesday, October 7, 2014

[Onychophora • 2013] Eoperipatus totoro • A New Species of Eoperipatus (Onychophora) from southern Vietnam, reveals novel morphological characters for the South-East Asian Peripatidae

 Eoperipatus totoro
Oliveira, Schaffer, Kvartalnov, Galoyan, Palko, Weck-Heimann, Geissler, Ruhbergh & Mayer 2013
the first velvet worm to be described from Vietnam. Velvet worms spit glue from two glands to entangle their prey

Although representatives of Peripatidae are widely distributed in South-East Asia, only three valid species of Eoperipatus and one species of Typhloperipatus have been described from this region. According to previous reports, the three species of Eoperipatus show little morphological variation and are difficult to distinguish from each other. In this study, we describe a new species of Eoperipatus from Vietnam, E. totoro sp. nov., using morphological (light and scanning electron microscopy) and molecular data (mitochondrial COI and 12S rRNA sequences). A comparison with specimens of an undescribed species of Eoperipatus from Thailand revealed novel species-specific characters, including the characteristics of male crural complexes, distinct types of scales on the ventral body surface, the inner structure of the circular pits on the male genital pad, and the position and size of the anal gland pads in males. The results of our molecular analyses correspond with those of morphological studies. In contrast to previous assumptions, our findings suggest a high diversity of the South-East Asian Peripatidae, which requires further exploration.

Keywords: Velvet worms; Morphological diversity; Distribution; Scanning electron microscopy; Taxonomy; Molecular phylogeny

Fig. 1. Distribution of the South-East Asian species of Peripatidae.
(A) Map showing the type localities of the species of Eoperipatus (red dots) and Typhloperipatus (blue triangle). Areas from which specimens of Eoperipatus have been recorded previously are highlighted in yellow. Question mark indicates the questionable type locality of Eoperipatus sumatranus in Sumatra. Purple asterisk indicates a recent record of an unidentified onychophoran in northern Vietnam ( Moler et al., 2013). (B) Detailed map of the Cát Tiên National Park in Vietnam and the collecting sites of Eoperipatus totoro sp. nov. (green squares). (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)

Fig. 2. Microhabitat and life colour of Eoperipatus totoro sp. nov.
(A) Typical habitat of E. totoro sp. nov. in the Cát Tiên National Park. Note the large stones under which the specimens are usually found. (B) Mid-body of a specimen in ventral view. Note the repeated bright spots along the ventral midline, which correspond to the ventral fields of modified scales (dashed circles) and to the ventral and preventral organs (arrows). Anterior is up. (C) Walking specimen in dorso-lateral view. Note the brown colour of dorsal integument without any pattern.

Etymology: Following the request of Pavel V. Kvartalnov, Eduard A. Galoyan and Igor V. Palko, the species is named after the main character of the cartoon movie “My Neighbour Totoro” by Hayao Miyazaki (1988, studio Ghibli), who uses a many-legged animal as a vehicle, which according to the collectors resembles a velvet worm.

I. S. Oliveira, S. Schaffer, P. V. Kvartalnov, E. A. Galoyan, I. V. Palko, A. Weck-Heimann, P. Geissler, H. Ruhberg, G. Mayer. 2013. A New Species of Eoperipatus (Onychophora) from Vietnam reveals novel morphological characters for the South-East Asian Peripatidae. Zoologischer Anzeiger - A Journal of Comparative Zoology. 252:495–510.

Douglas Main. 2013. New Glue-Spitting Velvet Worm Found in Vietnam.

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