Saturday, May 31, 2014

[Paleontology • 2014] Aplestosuchus sordidus • An Additional Baurusuchid from the Cretaceous of Brazil with Evidence of Interspecific Predation among Crocodyliformes

Aplestosuchus sordidus 
Godoy, Montefeltro, Norell & Langer, 2014

Aplestosuchus sordidus preying on a sphagesaurid.  

Illustration: Rodolfo Nogueira. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097138

A new Baurusuchidae (Crocodyliformes, Mesoeucrocodylia), Aplestosuchus sordidus, is described based on a nearly complete skeleton collected in deposits of the Adamantina Formation (Bauru Group, Late Cretaceous) of Brazil. The nesting of the new taxon within Baurusuchidae can be ensured based on several exclusive skull features of this clade, such as the quadrate depression, medial approximation of the prefrontals, rostral extension of palatines (not reaching the level of the rostral margin of suborbital fenestrae), cylindrical dorsal portion of palatine bar, ridge on the ectopterygoid-jugal articulation, and supraoccipital with restricted thin transversal exposure in the caudalmost part of the skull roof. A newly proposed phylogeny of Baurusuchidae encompasses A. sordidus and recently described forms, suggesting its sixter-taxon relationship to Baurusuchus albertoi, within Baurusuchinae. Additionally, the remains of a sphagesaurid crocodyliform were preserved in the abdominal cavity of the new baurusuchid. Direct fossil evidence of behavioral interaction among fossil crocodyliforms is rare and mostly restricted to bite marks resulting from predation, as well as possible conspecific male-to-male aggression. This is the first time that a direct and unmistaken evidence of predation between different taxa of this group is recorded as fossils. This discovery confirms that baurusuchids were top predators of their time, with sphagesaurids occupying a lower trophic position, possibly with a more generalist diet.

Figure 1. Fossil crocodyliformes showing predator-prey interaction.
A, Aplestosuchus sordidus skeleton (LPRP/USP 0229a). Scale bar, 10 cm. B, Area highlighted in “a” with details of the abdominal content, including sphagesaurid remains (LPRP/USP 0229b). Scale bar, 5 cm. C, Reconstructed predator and prey. Reconstruction by Rodolfo Nogueira. Scale bar, 50 cm.

Systematic paleontology

Crocodyliformes Benton & Clark 1988  
Mesoeucrocodylia Whetstone & Whybrown 1983 
Baurusuchidae Price, 1945  

Aplestosuchus gen. nov.

Etymology. From Aplestos (Gr.), insatiate, gluttonous, and souchos (Gr.), after a creature of Egyptian zoomorphism.

Type species. Aplestosuchus sordidus gen. et. sp. nov.

Etymology. sordidus (L.), filthy; in reference to the manifest greedy behavior of the animal.

Holotype. LPRP/USP (Laboratório de Paleontologia, Universidade de São Paulo) 0229a is an articulated, nearly complete skeleton (Figure 1A).

Type locality. Buruti creek area, General Salgado municipality, São Paulo, Brazil (20°34′ 0″ S; 50°27′ 55″ W) (Figure 2). This is the same area yielded the type-specimens of four other crocodyliforms: Baurusuchus albertoi, B. salgadoensis, Armadillosuchus arrudai, and Gondwanasuchus scabrosus.

Godoy, P.L., Montefeltro, F.C., Norell, M.A. and Langer, M.C. 2014. An Additional Baurusuchid from the Cretaceous of Brazil with Evidence of Interspecific Predation among Crocodyliformes. PLoS ONE. 9(5): e97138. DOI:  10.1371/journal.pone.0097138

[Herpetology • 2014] Phylogeny, Taxonomy and Biogeography of a circum-Indian Ocean Clade of Leaf-toed Geckos (Reptilia: Gekkota), with A Description of Two New Genera | Afrogecko, Christinus, Cryptactites, Matoatoa, Kolekanos gen. nov.& Ramigekko gen. nov.

Figs 1–6. Circum-Indian Ocean leaf-toed geckos, depicting variation in external form.
 (1) Afrogecko porphyreus, (2) Christinus marmoratus,
(3) Cryptactites peringueyi, (4) Matoatoa brevipes,
(5) Kolekanos Afrogecko plumicaudus, (6) Ramigekko Afrogeckoswartbergensis.
Photo credits: Johan Marais (1), Tony Gamble (2), Bill Branch (3, 5), Jon Boone (4, 6).

Geckos with a leaf-toed morphology (digits with a single pair of enlarged adhesive pads located terminally) occur on six continents and many islands. Although most leaf-toed gecko genera belong to independently derived lineages, recent studies support the monophyly of a circum-Indian Ocean group including four genera from disparate regions: the southern African genera Afrogecko and Cryptactites, the Malagasy genus Matoatoa, and the Australian genus Christinus. We obtained molecular and/or morphological data for most species in these genera to estimate phylogenetic relationships among constituent species and infer broad historical biogeographic patterns. Our results confirm that Afrogecko is not monophyletic, and that Christinus is embedded among African taxa. Afrogecko is comprised of three lineages, each of which is distinct in external features and osteology. Based on these results, we partition Afrogecko and recognize two new genera. Molecular clock analyses suggest divergences within the circum-Indian Ocean group are too recent for Gondwanan vicariance or hypothesized land bridges (e.g. Kerguelen Plateau) to account for the observed Africa/Madagascar/Australia distributional pattern. Ancestral area analyses support an origin of the clade in mainland Africa or Madagascar, and imply a dispersal event from southern Africa to Australia, similar to those observed in some plant and arthropod taxa, but otherwise unknown among non-volant terrestrial vertebrates. Dispersal was likely via a southern route and may have been facilitated by island hopping using Antarctica or other southern landmasses available in the mid-Cainozoic.

Key words: Afrogecko,Christinus,Cryptactites, dispersal, Gondwana, Computed Tomography, Matoatoa, molecular clock, osteology

Afrogecko Bauer, Good & Branch, 1997
Type species. Gecko porphyreus Daudin, 1802
Distribution. Disjunct distribution; Afrogecko occurs widely in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces, South Africa, and is known from a single locality in Benguela province, Angola (Bauer et al., 1997). 
Content. Afrogecko ansorgii (Boulenger, 1907); A. porphyreus (Daudin, 1802).

Christinus Wells & Wellington, 1984
Type species. Diplodactylus marmoratus Gray, 1845.
Distribution. Temperate southern Australia (Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales); Norfolk and Lord Howe Island groups (Bauer & Henle, 1994).
Content. Christinus alexanderi (Storr, 1987); C. guentheri (Boulenger, 1885); C. marmoratus (Gray, 1845).

Cryptactites Bauer, Good & Branch, 1997
 Type species. Phyllodactylus peringueyi Boulenger, 1910.
Distribution. West of Cape Recife and in the vicinity of the Kromme River estuary, Eastern Cape, South Africa (Branch & Bauer, 1994).
Content. Cryptactites peringueyi (Boulenger, 1910). 

Matoatoa Nussbaum, Raxworthy & Pronk, 1998
Type species. Phyllodactylus brevipes Mocquard, 1900.
Distribution. Southern Madagascar (Nussbaum et al., 1998; Glaw & Vences, 2007; Funnell et al. 2012). Content. Matoatoa brevipes (Mocquard, 1900); M. spannringi Nussbaum, Raxworthy & Pronk, 1998.

Kolekanos gen. nov.
Type species. Afrogecko plumicaudus Haacke, 2008.
Etymology. Kolekanos is a Greek word meaning a long, thin person. It is given based on the elongate, depressed body form of the type species. The gender is masculine.
Distribution. Namibe Province, Angola (Haacke, 2008).
Content. Kolekanos plumicaudus (Haacke, 2008).

Ramigekko gen. nov.
Type species. Phyllodactylus swartbergensis Haacke, 1996.
Etymology. The name is a combination of the Latin noun ramus, meaning branch, and gekko, a latinization of a Malay word said to imitate the vocalizations of geckos (subsequently applied to the lizards themselves). We apply the name in recognition of Professor William R. Branch, curator emeritus of herpetology at Bayworld (formerly Port Elizabeth Museum), in honour of his recent retirement and in recognition of his many contributions to the systematic herpetology of southern Africa. The gender is masculine.
Distribution. Swartberg Ranges, Cape Fold Mountains, Western Cape, South Africa (Bauer et al. 1997; Branch & Bauer, 1996; Haacke, 1996).
Content. Ramigekko swartbergensis(Haacke, 1996). 

Matthew P. Heinicke, Juan D. Daza, Eli Greenbaum, Todd R. Jackman, Aaron M. Bauer. 2014. Phylogeny, Taxonomy and Biogeography of a circum-Indian Ocean Clade of Leaf-toed Geckos (Reptilia: Gekkota), with A Description of Two New Genera. Systematics and Biodiversity. 12(1):23-42. DOI:

[Herpetology • 2012] Evolution of Gliding in Southeast Asian Geckos and Other Vertebrates is Temporally Congruent with Dipterocarp Forest Development

Figure 1. (a,c,e) Gliding geckos and (b,d,f) non-gliding relatives. Note digital webbing and lateral flaps in gliders. (a) Hemidactylus (Cosymbotus) craspedotus; (b) Hemidactylus garnotii; (c) Luperosaurus cumingii; (d) Lepidodactylus vanuatuensis; (e) Ptychozoon lionotum and (f) Gekko vittatus.

Gliding morphologies occur in diverse vertebrate lineages in Southeast Asian rainforests, including three gecko genera, plus frogs, snakes, agamid lizards and squirrels. It has been hypothesized that repeated evolution of gliding is related to the dominance of Asian rainforest tree floras by dipterocarps. For dipterocarps to have influenced the evolution of gliding in Southeast Asian vertebrates, gliding lineages must have Eocene or later origins. However, divergence times are not known for most lineages. To investigate the temporal pattern of Asian gliding vertebrate evolution, we performed phylogenetic and molecular clock analyses. New sequence data for geckos incorporate exemplars of each gliding genus (Cosymbotus, Luperosaurus and Ptychozoon), whereas analyses of other vertebrate lineages use existing sequence data. Stem ages of most gliding vertebrates, including all geckos, cluster in the time period when dipterocarps came to dominate Asian tropical forests. These results demonstrate that a gliding/dipterocarp correlation is temporally viable, and caution against the assumption of early origins for apomorphic taxa.
Keywords: volant, parachuting, Sundaland, phylogeny, Reptilia, Mammalia

Matthew P. Heinicke, Eli Greenbaum, Todd R. Jackman and Aaron M. Bauer. 2012. Evolution of Gliding in Southeast Asian Geckos and Other Vertebrates is Temporally Congruent with Dipterocarp Forest Development. Biol. Lett. 1–4. doi:

Friday, May 30, 2014

[Fungi • 2014] เห็ดเผาะสิรินธร | Astraeus sirindhorniae • A New Representative of Star-Shaped Fungi from northeastern Thailand

Figure 1. Astraeus sirindhorniae from the field.
 (A) immature basidiomes with basal rhizomorphs (arrowhead), bar = 17 mm.
(B) mature basidiome split to form a series of rays revealing an endoperidium with an apical opening (arrowhead), bar = 24 mm.
(C) basidiospores shooting from an opening apical (in blue circle), bar = 25 mm.

Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary (PKWS) is a major hotspot of biological diversity in Thailand but its fungal diversity has not been thouroughly explored. A two-year macrofungal study of this remote locality has resulted in the recognition of a new species of a star-shaped gasteroid fungus in the genus Astraeus. This fungus has been identified based on a morphological approach and the molecular study of five loci (LSU nrDNA, 5.8S nrDNA, RPB1, RPB2 and EF1-a). Multigene phylogenetic analysis of this new species places it basal relative to other Astraeus, providing additional evidence for the SE Asian orgin of the genus. The fungus is named in honour of Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn on the occasion the 84th birthday of her father, who have both been supportive of natural heritage studies in Thailand.

Astraeus sirindhorniae sp. nov.
Watling, Phosri, Sihanonth, A.W.Wilson & M.P. Martín

The species is named after Princess Sirindhorn on the occasion the 84th birthday of her father, who have both been supportive of natural heritage studies in Thailand and as a token of respect and recognition of the great interest shown by Her Majesty in the natural history and conservation of natural resources of Thailand. Now her name will be known in association with the Greek Titan of Astrology (Astraeus).

Thailand, Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Chaiyaphum, coll. C.Phosri, 9 September 2010, (BBH34830)

In rainy season, gregarious, partially buried in ultisols in dry deciduous forests associated with Dipterocarpus tuberculatus Roxb., Shorea obtusa Wall. and Shorea siamensis Miq.

North and Northeastern areas of Thailand.

In summary A. sirindhorniae is morphologically distinguished from A. odoratus, A. asiaticus and A. hygrometricus s.l. by basidiome and basidiospore size, spore ornamentation and peridium structure. Phylogenetic analysis clearly resolves Astraeus sirindhorniae as a basal lineage of Astraeus, within the Diplocystidiaceae and Sclerodermatineae. This systematic relationship, in combination with its associations with dipterocarp forests, it is probable that this species is ectomycorrhizal with members of the Dipterocarpaceae. Astraeus sirindhorniae represents a new gasteroid, star-shaped fungus from Thailand. This discovery reinforces the belief that fungi represent a group of organisms with many undescribed taxa; some of which exist within the dry evergreen dipterocarp forests of SE Asia.

Cherdchai Phosri, Roy Watling, Nuttika Suwannasai, Andrew Wilson and María P. Martín. 2014. A New Representative of Star-Shaped Fungi: Astraeus sirindhorniae sp. nov. from Thailand. PLoS ONE. 9(5): e71160. doi:

Thursday, May 29, 2014

[Ichthyology • 2007] ปลาหางไหม้ | Balantiocheilos ambusticauda | Burnt-tailed Barb • A New and Possibly Extinct Species of cyprinid Fish (Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae) from the Mekong and Chao Phraya river drainages in Indochina (mainland Southeast Asia)

ปลาหางไหม้ Balantiocheilos ambusticauda
Ng & Kottelat 2007

Balantiocheilos ambusticauda sp. nov. is described from the Mekong and Chao Phraya river drainages in Indochina (mainland Southeast Asia). It can be distinguished from its only congener, B. melanopterus, in having a shorter snout (27.5–33.9% HL vs. 33.2–39.1), posteriorly directed grooves at rictus curved (vs. straight), and narrower black margins on the pelvic and anal fins (on distal third or less vs. on distal half or more). The possibility that B. ambusticauda is extinct is also discussed.

Key words: Mekong, Chao Phraya, Systomini, Osteobramae

by Luang 
Masya Chitarkarn (หลวงมัศยจิตรการ) |

นณณ์ ผาณิตวงศ์. 2554. ปลาหางไหม้สายพันธุ์ไทย ก่อนที่จะไม่เหลือแม้แต่ความทรงจํา.

Ng, H. H.  and M. Kottelat.  2007. Balantiocheilos ambusticauda, A New and Possibly Extinct Species of cyprinid Fish from Indochina (Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae). Zootaxa. 1463: 13-20. 

นณณ์ ผาณิตวงศ์. 2554. ปลาหางไหม้สายพันธุ์ไทย ก่อนที่จะไม่เหลือแม้แต่ความทรงจํา
สิริวรรณ สุขศรี. 2554. ปลาหางไหม้ไทย (Balantiocheilos ambusticauda Ng & Kottelat, 2007) ความแตกต่างระหว่างชนิดและการสูญพันธุ์จากประเทศไทย


[PaleoOrnithology • 2014] Eocene Fossil is Earliest Evidence of Flower-visiting by Birds, Pumiliornis tessellatus, from Messel, Germany

Figure 1. Skeleton of Pumiliornis tessellatus from the Middle Eocene of Messel (SMF-ME 11414a) with preserved stomach contents. (a) Overview of specimen, framed area indicates position of detail shown in (b), stomach contents are encircled.

Birds are important pollinators, but the evolutionary history of ornithophily (bird pollination) is poorly known. Here, we report a skeleton of the avian taxon Pumiliornis from the middle Eocene of Messel in Germany with preserved stomach contents containing numerous pollen grains of an eudicotyledonous angiosperm. The skeletal morphology of Pumiliornis is in agreement with this bird having been a, presumably nectarivorous, flower-visitor. It represents the earliest and first direct fossil evidence of flower-visiting by birds and indicates a minimum age of 47 million years for the origin of bird–flower interactions. As Pumiliornis does not belong to any of the modern groups of flower-visiting birds, the origin of ornithophily in some angiosperm lineages may have predated that of their extant avian pollinators.

Keywords: bird pollination, ornithophily, fossil, birds, Messel, Eocene

Gerald Mayr and Volker Wilde. 2014. Eocene Fossil is Earliest Evidence of Flower-visiting by Birds. Biol. Lett. 10(5); 20140223 doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0223

Pumiliornis tessellatus: Oldest Known Fossil of Nectarivorous Bird Discovered 

[PaleoOrnithology • 1999] Pumiliornis tessellatus • A New Enigmatic Bird from the Middle Eocene of Grube Messel (Hessen, Germany)

Pumiliornis tessellatus n. gen. n. sp. is described from the Middle Eocene of Grube Messel (Hessen, Germany). This bird combines gruiform and charadriiform characters with a columbiform foot and therefore resembles Rhynchaeites messelensis WITTICH, a species also found in Messel. Pumiliornis tessellatus can be clearly distinguished from all extant taxa, but it has not been possible to ascertain whether the similarities it shares with Rhynchaeites messelensis are synapomorphic, symplesiomorphic or convergent.
Keywords: Messel, Eocene, birds, Rhynchaeites messelensis

Etymology: pumilio (Lat.): dwarf, ornis (Gr.): bird. | tessellatus (Lat.): mosaic  because of the mosaic distribution of characters typical for different higher avian taxa.

Gerald MAYR. 1999. Pumiliornis tessellatus n. gen. n. sp., A New Enigmatic Bird from the Middle Eocene of Grube Messel (Hessen, Germany). Cour. Forsch.-Inst. Senckenberg. 216:75-83.

Monday, May 26, 2014

[Herpetology • 2014] Xenophrys lini & X. cheniMorphology, Molecular Genetics, and Bioacoustics Support Two New Sympatric Xenophrys Toads (Anura: Megophryidae) in Southeast China

upper Xenophrys lini sp. nov. A. adult male holotype. D. adult female paratype
lower Xenophrys cheni sp. nov. A. adult male holotype. D. adult female paratype
Given their recent worldwide declines and extinctions, characterization of species-level diversity is of critical importance for large-scale biodiversity assessments and conservation of amphibians. This task is made difficult by the existence of cryptic species complexes, species groups comprising closely related and morphologically analogous species. The combination of morphology, genetic, and bioacoustic analyses permits robust and accurate species identification. Using these methods, we discovered two undescribed Xenophrys species, namely Xenophrys lini sp. nov. and Xenophrys cheni sp. nov. from the middle range of Luoxiao Mountains, southeast China. These two new species can be reliably distinguished from other known congeners by morphological and morphometric differences, distinctness in male advertisement calls, and substantial genetic distances (>3.6%) based on the mitochondrial 16s and 12s rRNA genes. The two new species, together with X. jinggangensis, are sympatric in the middle range of Luoxiao Mountains but may be isolated altitudinally and ecologically. Our study provides a first step to help resolve previously unrecognized cryptic biodiversity and provides insights into the understanding of Xenophrys diversification in the mountain complexes of southeast China.

Figure 2. Bayesian inference and maximum-likelihood phylogenies.
The species Paramegophrys oshanensis and Megophrys nasuta were included as outgroup.

Figure 1. Sampling localities of Xenophrys toads in southern China.
These include: I. Huangshan Mountains, here collected refer to X. huangshanensis from Mt. Dazhang, Wuyuan, Jiangxi; II. X. boettgeri from Mt. Tongbo, Jiangxi; III. X. boettgeri from Mt. Yangjifeng, Jiangxi; IV. X. kuatunensis from Guadun ( = Kuatun), Fujian; V. X. brachykolos from Hong Kong; VI. X. mangshanensis from Mt. Nanling, Guangdong; VII. X. minor from Mt. Emei and Mt. Laojun, Sichuan; VIII. the middle Luoxiao Mountains: X. jinggangensis from the peak of Mt. Jinggang, Jiangxi (a), and Taoyuandong, Hunan (d); Xenophrys lini sp. nov. from Dabali (b) and Niushiping (g) in Hunan; Jingzhushan (c), Bamianshan (e), Nafengmian (i) in Jiangxi; Xenophrys cheni sp. nov. from Jingzhushan (c), Jiangxi, Dayuan (f) and Lishuzhou (h) in Hunan.

Xenophrys lini Wang and Yang sp. nov

Figure 5. Xenophrys lini sp. nov.
A. Dorsolateral view of the live adult male Xenophrys lini sp. nov holotype SYS a001420. B: Ventral view of the live holotype. C: A clump of tiny black nuptial spines on the thumb of the preserved holotype. D: Dorsolateral views of the live adult female paratype SYS r0001423. E: Foot with wide lateral fringes and rudimentary webbings on the toes in paratype SYS a002372. F and G: Lateral and dorsal view of X. lini sp. nov. tadpole at stage 32th in preservative.
Photographed by YYW. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093075.g005

Etymology: The specific epithet “lini” is in honor of late Professor and botanist Ying Lin (1914–2003), vice chancellor (1979–1983) of Nanchang University (Jiangxi Province, China), in recognition of his efforts on biodiversity surveys and research in Mt. Jinggang in the 1970s and 80s.

Distribution and biological ecology: Currently, X. lini sp. nov. is known only from the Bamianshan, Jingzhushan, Nanfengmian Nature Reserve and Dabali, within the range of Mt. Jinggang, Jiangxi Province, and from adjacent Taoyuandong Nature Reserve, Hunan Province which are located in the middle of Luoxiao Mountains, running along the border between the Jiangxi and Hunan Provinces, China. All individuals were found in rushing mountain streams surrounded by moist subtropical evergreen broadleaved forests between elevations of 1100–1610 m 

Xenophrys cheni Wang and Liu sp. nov

Figure 6. Xenophrys cheni sp. nov.
A: Dorsolateral view of the live adult male Xenophrys cheni sp. nov. holotype SYS a001873. B: Ventral view of the live holotype. C: Foot with wide lateral fringes and rudimentary webbing on the toes in the live holotype. D and E: Dorsolateral and ventral views of the live adult female paratype SYS r001429. F and G: Hand and foot of the live paratype SYS r001429.
Photographed by YYW and JZ. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093075.g005

Etymology: The specific epithet “cheni” is in honor of Mr. Chun-Quan Chen, former director of Mt. Jinggang National Nature Reserve, Jiangxi Province, China, in recognition of his dedication to the biodiversity conservation of Mt. Jinggang.

Distribution and biological ecology: Currently, X. cheni sp. nov. is known from the Jingzhushan, Mt. Jinggang, and adjacent Lishuzhou Village, Dayuan Farm, Taoyuandong Nature Reserve; both located in the middle of Luoxiao Mountains, running along the border between the Jiangxi and Hunan Provinces, China. All individuals were found in mountainous swamps surrounded by moist subtropical evergreen broadleaved forests at elevations of about 1200–1530 m 

Yingyong Wang, Jian Zhao, Jianhuan Yang, Zhixin Zhou, Guoling Chen and Yang Liu. 2014. Morphology, Molecular Genetics, and Bioacoustics Support Two New Sympatric Xenophrys Toads (Amphibia: Anura: Megophryidae) in Southeast China. PLoS ONE. 9(4): e93075. DOI:  10.1371/journal.pone.0093075

[Herpetology • 2012] Xenophrys jinggangensis • A New Species of the Genus Xenophrys Günther, 1864 (Anura: Megophryidae) from Mount Jinggang, eastern China, based on Molecular and Morphological Data

female Holotype Xenophrys jinggangensis Wang 2012

A new species, Xenophrys jinggangensis sp. nov., is described based on a series of specimens collected from Mount Jinggang, Jiangxi Province, Eastern China. The new species can be easily distinguished from other known congeners by morphology, morphometrics and molecular data of the mitochondrial 16SrRNA gene. The new species is characterized by its small size with adult females measuring 38.4–41.6 mm in snout-vent length and males measuring 35.1–36.7 mm; head length approximately equal to head width; tympanum large and distinct, about 0.8 times of eye diameter; vomerine teeth on two weak ridges; tongue not notched behind; relative finger length II < I < IV < III; slight lateral fringes present on digits; toes bases with thick, fleshy web; dorsum with tubercles and swollen dorsolateral folds; large pustules scattered on flanks; and unique color patterns. The new species represents the thirty-first known Xenophrys in China.

Key words: Megophryidae, Xenophrys jinggangensis sp. nov., morphology, mitochondrial DNA, taxonomy

FIGURE 3. 3A: Dorsal view of the adult female holotype SYS a001430 of Xenophrys jinggangensis sp. nov. in life. 3B: Lateral view of the holotype in life. 3C and 3D: Hand and foot of the holotype in life.
Photo Ying-Yong Wang and Jiang-Mo Zhang.

FIGURE 4. 4A: General aspect of the adult female paratype SYS a001413 in life. 4B: X. jinggangensis active at night on a rock in a mountain stream on 10 September 2011. 4C: Dorsal view of X. jinggangensis tadpole at stage 38 of in life on 5 December 2011.
Photo Ying-Yong Wang and Jian Zhao.

Distribution and biological ecology. Currently, X. jinggangensis sp. nov. is known only from the type locality, Mount Jinggang, located in the middle of the Luoxiao Range, running along the border between Jiangxi and Hunan Provinces, China. All individuals were found in small, slow-moving montane streams surrounded by moist subtropical evergreen broadleaved forests between 700–850 m elevations (Figure 1, 5).
Etymology. The specific epithet “jinggangensis” is in reference to the type locality, Mount Jinggang, Jiangxi Province, China.

Wang, Ying-yong, Tian-du Zhang, Jian Zhao, Yik-Hei Sung, Jian-huan Yang, Hong Pang & Zhong Zhang. 2012. Description of A New Species of the Genus Xenophrys Günther, 1864 (Amphibia: Anura: Megophryidae) from Mount Jinggang, China, based on Molecular and Morphological data. Zootaxa. (3546): 53-67.

Friday, May 23, 2014

[Crustacea • 2013] Liropus minusculus • A New Species of Liropus (Crustacea, Amphipoda, Caprellidae) from California, USA, with an illustrated Key of the Genus

A new species of the genus Liropus (Crustacea, Amphipoda, Caprellidae) is described based on specimens collected from a small cave of Santa Catalina Island, California. The new species, Liropus minusculus, can be distinguished from all its congeners mainly by the presence of anterolateral projections on pereonites 2, 3, and 4 (males), pereopod 5 one-articulate (although with a second article incompletely tabicated), basis of gnathopod 2 very elongate (males), and abdomen with two pairs of one-articulate appendages (males), one of them rudimentary. Up-to-date morphological comparisons among the world Liropus species are provided, together with an illustrated key to species. This is the first record of Liropus from the north-east Pacific.

Keywords: Crustacea, Amphipoda, Caprellidae, Liropus, new species, North Pacific, California

José M. Guerra-García, Ed A. Hendrycks. 2013. A New Species of Liropus (Crustacea, Amphipoda, Caprellidae) from California, USA, with an illustrated Key of the Genus. Zootaxa. 3718 (5): 467 DOI:

Macarena Ros, Maite Vázquez-Luis, José Manuel Guerra-García. The tropical caprellid amphipod Paracaprella pusilla: a new alien crustacean in the Mediterranean Sea. Helgoland Marine Research, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s10152-013-0353-4

New species of crustacean discovered on coast of California -- ScienceDaily

Thursday, May 22, 2014

[Mollusca • 2013] Zospeum tholussum • A New eutroglobiont gastropod species (Gastropoda, Ellobioidea, Carychiidae) from 980 m depth in the Lukina Jama–Trojama cave system (Velebit Mts., Croatia)

A new species of the eutroglobiont gastropod taxon Zospeum Bourguignat, 1856 is described. Zospeum tholussum sp. n. is characterized based on a population from the Lukina Jama–Trojama cave system (Velebit Mts., Croatia). A single living specimen occurred at 980 m depth. The species is morphologically related to Zospeum amoenum (Frauenfeld, 1856), but can be readily distinguished from the latter by the presence of a weak columellar fold and its dome-like structured 2nd whorl. DNA barcoding is capable to clearly delineate Zospeum tholussum from other Zospeum spp. as well.
Keywords: DNA barcoding, cryptic species, biospeleology, eutroglobiont gastropod, cave-dwelling species, microgastropoda

The Lukina Jama–Trojama cave system. Overview of the geographical position and 3D cave cross-section. In the latter, the region of collected shells (1) and the collection site of the living specimen of Zospeum tholussum (2) are indicated.
The 3D cross-section was provided by D. Bakšić et al. (2010), Croatian Speleological Server, Photos were taken by J. Bedek.

Weigand AM. 2013. New Zospeum species (Gastropoda, Ellobioidea, Carychiidae) from 980 m depth in the Lukina Jama–Trojama cave system (Velebit Mts., Croatia). Subterranean Biology. 11: 45–53. doi:

[Mollusca • 2013] Three New Species of the Carnivorous Snail genus Perrottetia Kobelt, 1905 (Pulmonata, Streptaxidae) from Thailand

Three new species of the streptaxid snail genus Perrottetia are described from north and northeastern Thailand, Perrottetia aquilonaria sp. n., Perrottetia dermapyrrhosa sp. n. and Perrottetia phuphamanensis sp. n. Each species is endemic to a single or a few limestone mountain ranges. The species are characterized by the morphology of their genital organs, as well as by shell characters. Perrottetia aquilonaria sp. n. has a club shaped distal penis and large penial hooks are present and penial papillae cover almost the entire penial hook portion; adjacent areas possess low reticulated folds. Perrottetia dermapyrrhosa sp. n. has a long genital atrium and the penial sheath is about two-thirds of the penis length. Penial hooks are long, scattered and sunken into deep ovate hollows; vaginal hooks are present. Perrottetia phuphamanensis sp. n. has a rounded and protruded shell periphery. The aperture is subcircular, peristome is thick and the second parietal lamella is adjacent to the first parietal lamella; a basal lamella is the smaller than in the other Thai species.

Keywords: Systematics, land snails, taxonomy, genitalia, predator

Thanit Siriboon, Chirasak Sutcharit, Fred Naggs, Somsak Panha. 2013. Three New Species of the Carnivorous Snail genus Perrottetia Kobelt, 1905 from Thailand (Pulmonata, Streptaxidae). ZooKeys. 287 (0): 41 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.287.4572

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

[Paleontology • 2014] Leinkupal laticauda • A Diplodocid Sauropod Survivor from the Early Cretaceous of South America (Bajada Colorada Formation of Neuquén Province, Patagonia, Argentina)

The South American dinosaur Leinkupal laticauda uses its whiplike tail to fend off predators
illustration: Jorge Antonio Gonzalez 


Diplodocids are by far the most emblematic sauropod dinosaurs. They are part of Diplodocoidea, a vast clade whose other members are well-known from Jurassic and Cretaceous strata in Africa, Europe, North and South America. However, Diplodocids were never certainly recognized from the Cretaceous or in any other southern land mass besides Africa. Here we report a new sauropod, Leikupal laticauda gen. et sp. nov., from the early Lower Cretaceous (Bajada Colorada Formation) of Neuquén Province, Patagonia, Argentina. This taxon differs from any other sauropod by the presence of anterior caudal transverse process extremely developed with lateroventral expansions reinforced by robust dorsal and ventral bars, very robust centroprezygapophyseal lamina in anterior caudal vertebra and paired pneumatic fossae on the postzygapophyses in anterior-most caudal vertebra. The phylogenetic analyses support its position not only within Diplodocidae but also as a member of Diplodocinae, clustering together with the African form Tornieria, pushing the origin of Diplodocoidea to the Middle Jurassic or even earlier. The new discovery represents the first record of a diplodocid for South America and the stratigraphically youngest record of this clade anywhere.

Systematic Paleontology

Dinosauria Owen, 1842

Saurischia Seeley, 1888
Sauropoda Marsh, 1878

Diplodocoidea Marsh, 1884
Flagellicaudata Harris & Dodson, 2004

Diplodocidae Marsh, 1884
Diplodocinae Marsh, 1884; Janensch, 1929

Leinkupal laticauda gen. et sp. nov.

Etymology: From lein, vanishing, and kupal, family. These are Mapudungun words, the language of the Mapuche Native American nation that inhabits northwestern Patagonia. The terms refer to the record of the last known representative of the family Diplodocidae. Meanwhile, lati, from latus, wide, and cauda, tail, in Latin words, refer to the broad tail evidenced by the lateral extension of the transverse processes in proximal caudal vertebrae.

Holotype: MMCH-Pv 63-1 (Museo Municipal “Ernesto Bachmann,” Villa El Chocón, Neuquén,), includes one anterior caudal vertebra (Caudal 7, see Description and comparisons below).

Pablo A. Gallina, Sebastián Apesteguía, Alejandro Haluza, Juan I. Canale. 2014. A Diplodocid Sauropod Survivor from the Early Cretaceous of South America. PLoS ONE. 2014; 9 (5): e97128 DOI:

Unique long-necked dinosaur unearthed in Argentina

[PaleoOrnithology • 2010] Longicrusavis houi • A New ornithuromorph (Aves: Ornithothoraces) Bird from the Jehol Group indicative of Higher-level Diversity

Life reconstruction of Longicrusavis houi in what was probably its favored habitat, shallow lake waters. A reconstruction of the fossil specimen itself is reflected in the water.
illustration: Stephanie Abramowicz,
Dinosaur Institute, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Longicrusavis houi
O'Connor, Gao & Chiappe 2010

Basal Ornithuromorpha, until recently, was one of the most poorly documented segments of early avian evolution. The known species diversity of the ornithuromorph clade has increased rapidly with the addition of new discoveries from the Early Cretaceous deposits of northeastern China. Reported in this paper is the discovery of a new bird from the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation, Liaoning Province, China. The specimen represents a new species, Longicrusavis houi, but bears similarities to Hongshanornis longicresta from the same formation of Inner Mongolia. The two birds are comparable in size and share an unusual sigmoid mandible and elongate hindlimbs relative to their forelimbs. Together these taxa represent a clade (Hongshanornithidae, new taxon) of specialized ‘shorebirds’ whose elongate hindlimbs indicate ecological adaptations different from those of other Jehol ornithuromorphs. Phylogenetic relationships of Mesozoic birds are discussed based on the results of a comprehensive cladistic analysis. New morphological information on Ornithuromorpha is provided through the detailed description of the new taxon together with new information on Hongshanornis.

O'Connor, J.K.; Gao, K.-Q.; and Chiappe, L.M. 2010. A New ornithuromorph (Aves: Ornithothoraces) Bird from the Jehol Group indicative of Higher-level Diversity. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 30 (2): 311–321. doi:

New Bird Fossil Hints at More Undiscovered Chinese Treasures 
-- The study of Mesozoic birds and the dinosaur-bird transition is one of the most exciting and vigorous fields in vertebrate paleontology today. A newly described bird from the Jehol Biota of northeast China suggests that scientists have only tapped a small proportion of the birds and dinosaurs that were living at that time, and that the rocks still have many secrets to reveal. via @physorg_com

[PaleoOrnithology • 2005] Hongshanornis longicresta • Discovery of An ornithurine Bird and its Implication for Early Cretaceous Avian Radiation

 Hongshanornis longicresta (高冠红山鸟)
an ornithurine bird from the late cretaceous found in the lacustrine deposits of the Lower Cretaceous Jehol Group in Inner Mongolia, China.
by sinammonite:

An ornithurine bird, Hongshanornis longicresta gen. et sp. nov., represented by a nearly complete and articulated skeleton in full plumage, has been recovered from the lacustrine deposits of the Lower Cretaceous Jehol Group in Inner Mongolia, northeast China. The bird had completely reduced teeth and possessed a beak in both the upper and lower jaws, representing the earliest known beaked ornithurine. The preservation of a predentary bone confirms that this structure is not unique to ornithischian dinosaurs but was common in early ornithurine birds. This small bird had a strong flying capability with a low aspect ratio wing. It was probably a wader, feeding in shallow water or marshes. This find confirms that the aquatic environment had played a key role in the origin and early radiation of ornithurines, one branch of which eventually gave rise to extant birds near the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary. This discovery provides important information not only for studying the origin and early evolution of ornithurines but also for understanding the differentiation in morphology, body size, and diet of the Early Cretaceous birds.

Keywords: evolutionary radiation, fossil bird, Inner Mongolia, beak

Fig. 1. Holotype of ornithurine bird Hongshanornis longicresta gen. et sp. nov. from the Lower Cretaceous of Inner Mongolia, China (IVPP V14533). (Left) Part. (Right) Counterpart.

Zhonghe Zhou and Fucheng Zhang. 2005. Discovery of An ornithurine Bird and its Implication for Early Cretaceous Avian Radiation. PNAS. 102(52); 18998–19002, doi:

Luis M. Chiappe​, Bo Zhao, Jingmai K. O’Connor, Gao Chunling, Xuri Wang, Michael Habib, Jesus Marugan-Lobon, Qingjin Meng, Xiaodong Cheng. 2014. A New Specimen of the Early Cretaceous Bird Hongshanornis longicresta: insights into the Aerodynamics and Diet of a Basal ornithuromorph. PeerJ. 2:e234 DOI: