Saturday, November 29, 2014

[Ichthyology • 2014] Porophryne erythrodactylus • A New Genus and Species of the Frogfish Family Antennariidae (Lophiiformes: Antennarioidei) from New South Wales, Australia, with a Diagnosis and Key to the Genera of the Histiophryninae

A Red-fingered Anglerfish, Porophryne erythrodactylus, at La Perouse, Botany Bay, New South Wales.
photo: Klaus Stiefel |

A new genus and species of the frogfish family Antennariidae, subfamily Histiophryninae, is described on the basis of three specimens collected near Kurnell and Bare Island in Botany Bay, New South Wales, Australia. It differs from all other antennariid genera in having a combination of features that includes a unique morphology of the first and second dorsal-fin spines, some or all fins fringed with red, and a unique combination of fin-ray and vertebral counts. The new genus is diagnosed, described, and compared to its sister genus, Kuiterichthys, using both molecular and morphological data. Notes on habitat and sponge mimicry, locomotion and defense, and reproduction and parental care are also provided as well as a diagnosis and a revised key to the known genera of the Histiophryninae.

Arnold, R.J., Harcourt, R. & Pietsch, T.W. 2014. A New Genus and Species of the Frogfish Family Antennariidae (Teleostei: Lophiiformes: Antennarioidei) from New South Wales, Australia, with a Diagnosis and Key to the Genera of the Histiophryninae. Copeia. 2014(3): 534-539. DOI: 10.1643/CI-13-155

Thursday, November 27, 2014

[Mammalogy • 2014] Hypsugo dolichodon • Canines make the Difference: A New Species of Hypsugo (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) from Laos and Vietnam

Hypsugo dolichodon
Görföl, Csorba, Eger, Son & Francis, 2014

Hypsugo was regarded as a subgenus of Pipistrellus by many authors, but its generic distinctiveness is now widely accepted. According to recent taxonomic arrangements, nine species are known to occur in Southeast Asia. During the investigation of material recently collected from Lao PDR and Vietnam we identified an additional species and hence describe it here as Hypsugo dolichodon n. sp. It resembles H. pulveratus, but is larger with conspicuously long canines and differs considerably in the DNA barcode gene sequence.

Keywords: biodiversity, Indomalayan Region, pipistrelloid bats, taxonomy

Görföl, Tamás, Gábor Csorba, Judith L. Eger, Nguyen T. Son & C. M. Francis. 2014. Canines make the Difference: A New Species of Hypsugo (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) from Laos and Vietnam. Zootaxa. 3887(2): 239–250. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3887.2.6

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

[Ornithology • 2014] Muscicapa sodhii | Sulawesi Streaked Flycatcher • A New Species of Muscicapa Flycatcher from Sulawesi, Indonesia

Sulawesi Streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa sodhii, whose discovery has just been confirmed 15 years after the first sighting in Indonesia, is distinguished by its mottled throat and short wings.
Photo by Martin Lindop | DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112657.g001


The Indonesian island of Sulawesi, a globally important hotspot of avian endemism, has been relatively poorly studied ornithologically, to the extent that several new bird species from the region have been described to science only recently, and others have been observed and photographed, but never before collected or named to science. One of these is a new species of Muscicapa flycatcher that has been observed on several occasions since 1997. We collected two specimens in Central Sulawesi in 2012, and based on a combination of morphological, vocal and genetic characters, we describe the new species herein, more than 15 years after the first observations. The new species is superficially similar to the highly migratory, boreal-breeding Gray-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa griseisticta, which winters in Sulawesi; however, the new species differs strongly from M. griseisticta in several morphological characters, song, and mtDNA. Based on mtDNA, the new species is only distantly related to M. griseisticta, instead being a member of the M. dauurica clade. The new species is evidently widely distributed in lowland and submontane forest throughout Sulawesi. This wide distribution coupled with the species' apparent tolerance of disturbed habitats suggests it is not currently threatened with extinction.

Figure 1. Muscicapa sodhii (sp. nov.; Sulawesi Streaked Flycatcher; upper left and center)
in comparison to M. dauurica williamsoni (Asian Brown [Brown-streaked] Flycatcher; upper right), M. s. sibirica (Dark-sided Flycatcher; lower right), and M. griseisticta (Gray-streaked Flycatcher; lower left).
Original painting by Teo Nam Siang. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112657.g001

Etymology: The new species is named in honor of the late Professor Navjot S. Sodhi (1962–2011) for his monumental contributions to conservation biology and ornithology in Southeast Asia. Dr. Sodhi played a leading role in elucidating the effects of habitat disturbance on biodiversity, especially birds, across Southeast Asia. This research provided a fundamental understanding of the ecology of Southeast Asian forests and critical information required for conservation planning. In addition, Dr. Sodhi was an outstanding mentor for many students including D.L.Y. and J.B.C.H. for whom he was an honours and doctorate supervisor, respectively. The English name recognizes the endemic distribution of the species, with the descriptive term “Streaked” to avoid possible confusion with other endemic Sulawesi flycatchers.

J. Berton C. Harris, Pamela C. Rasmussen, Ding Li Yong, Dewi M. Prawiradilaga, Dadang Dwi Putra, Philip D. Round and Frank E. Rheindt. A New Species of Muscicapa Flycatcher from Sulawesi, Indonesia. PLoS ONE. 9(11): e112657. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112657.g001

Monday, November 24, 2014

[Ornithology • 2014] A Comprehensive Multilocus Phylogeny of the Neotropical cotingas (Cotingidae, Aves) with A Comparative Evolutionary Analysis of Breeding System and Plumage Dimorphism and A revised Phylogenetic Classification

the “tree of life” shows nearly all the sizes, colors, and adaptations for the continga family of birds radiating outward from the center and its common ancestor. Both males and females are shown except where plumage for both is the same.
 from the Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 9. Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails,
Lynx Editions 2004

• We present the first multilocus species tree of the Neotropical cotingas.
• We confirm the monophyly of the cotingas.
• We present the first phylogenetic evidence for the placement of Phibalura flavirostris.
• We present the first hypotheses of phylogenetic relationships within the Cotinga, Lipaugus, Pipreola, and Procnias genera.
• We find that plumage color dimorphism and breeding system may be uncorrelated in the cotingas.

The Neotropical cotingas (Cotingidae: Aves) are a group of passerine birds that are characterized by extreme diversity in morphology, ecology, breeding system, and behavior. Here, we present a comprehensive phylogeny of the Neotropical cotingas based on six nuclear and mitochondrial loci (∼7500 bp) for a sample of 61 cotinga species in all 25 genera, and 22 species of suboscine outgroups. Our taxon sample more than doubles the number of cotinga species studied in previous analyses, and allows us to test the monophyly of the cotingas as well as their intrageneric relationships with high resolution. We analyze our genetic data using a Bayesian species tree method, and concatenated Bayesian and maximum likelihood methods, and present a highly supported phylogenetic hypothesis. We confirm the monophyly of the cotingas, and present the first phylogenetic evidence for the relationships of Phibalura flavirostris as the sister group to Ampelion and Doliornis, and the paraphyly of Lipaugus with respect to Tijuca. In addition, we resolve the diverse radiations within the Cotinga, Lipaugus, Pipreola, and Procnias genera. We find no support for Darwin’s (1871) hypothesis that the increase in sexual selection associated with polygynous breeding systems drives the evolution of color dimorphism in the cotingas, at least when analyzed at a broad categorical scale. Finally, we present a new comprehensive phylogenetic classification of all cotinga species.

Keywords: Phylogenetics; Bayesian inference; Species-tree; Sexual selection; Polygyny; Monogamy

Jacob S. Berv, Richard O. Prum. 2014. A Comprehensive Multilocus Phylogeny of the Neotropical cotingas (Cotingidae, Aves) with A Comparative Evolutionary Analysis of Breeding System and Plumage Dimorphism and A revised Phylogenetic Classification. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. (81) 120–136. DOI:

New Cotinga Tree of Life Sheds Light on Evolution of Brilliant Colors
 "New 'tree of life' traces evolution of a mysterious cotinga birds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 October 2014.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

[PaleoMammalogy • 2014] Tohoraata raekohao • A New Eomysticetid (Mammalia: Cetacea) from the Late Oligocene of New Zealand and a re-evaluation of ‘Mauicetuswaitakiensis

Tohoraata raekohao
Boessenecker & Fordyce, 2014

The published Oligocene record of mysticetes (baleen whales) is dominated by toothed mysticetes in addition to the Eomysticetidae, the earliest known chaeomysticetes known only from the Oligocene. Formally recognized eomysticetids include examples from the Oligocene of South Carolina, USA (Eomysticetus), and Japan (Yamatocetus). A new fossil from the upper Oligocene Otekaike Limestone including a partial skull, periotic, tympanic bulla, mandible and some postcrania is here described as Tohoraata raekohao gen. et sp. nov. Tohoraata confirms the presence of an eomysticetid in New Zealand. Tohoraata raekohao is characterized by delicate frontal with numerous supraorbital foramina and sulci, relatively long exposure of the frontal and parietal along a transversely narrow intertemporal region, greatly enlarged temporal fossa, massive and anteriorly directed zygomatic process lacking a supramastoid crest, and a periotic with superior process reduced to a low ridge with anterior and posterior apices. Cranial and postcranial fusion of elements, development of muscle attachments and osteohistology demonstrate that the T. raekohao holotype is an adult or possible subadult. Features of the tympanic bulla including a relatively wide bulla with a medial lobe that is transversely much wider than the lateral lobe, and a slightly posterolaterally facing exoccipital, permit referral of the fragmentary ‘Mauicetus’ waitakiensis of Marples into the genus Tohoraata, resulting in Tohoraata waitakiensis comb. nov. Description of T. raekohao and resolution of the relationships of the hitherto problematic Tohoraata waitakiensis indicates that several eomysticetids were present in the Southern Ocean during the Late Oligocene.

Keywords: Eomysticetidae; Mysticeti; Cetacea; Oligocene; New Zealand

Robert W. Boessenecker and R. Ewan Fordyce. 2014. A New Eomysticetid (Mammalia: Cetacea) from the Late Oligocene of New Zealand and a re-evaluation of ‘Mauicetuswaitakiensis. Papers in Palaeontology. in press. doi: 10.1002/spp2.1005

The scientists, from the University of Otago, have named the new genus Tohoraata, which translates as ‘Dawn Whale’ in Maori.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

[Mammalogy • 2014] How Many Species of Paradoxurus Civets are there? New Insights from India and Sri Lanka

Paradoxurus m. musangus
Male relaxing on a thick liana at Sungei Relau, Taman Negara, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia | photo:

Using molecular data and morphological features, we investigated the species limits and genetic diversity among populations of the Asian palm civets of the genus Paradoxurus. Our main objectives were to determine the number of species within Paradoxurus hermaphroditus and to test the validity of the newly proposed species within Paradoxurus zeylonensis. Fragments of two mitochondrial (Cytochrome b, Control Region) and one nuclear (intron 7 of the beta fibrinogen) markers were sequenced from 128 individuals of P. hermaphroditus, P. zeylonensis and Paradoxurus jerdoni. DNA sequences were analysed using phylogenetic and haplotype network methods. 

Our analyses confirmed that P. hermaphroditus comprises three major clades, which should be recognized as separate species: Paradoxurus hermaphroditus (Indian and Indochinese regions), Paradoxurus musangus (mainland Southeast Asia, Sumatra, Java and other small Indonesian islands) and Paradoxurus philippinensis (Mentawai Islands, Borneo and the Philippines). Furthermore, we have proposed that there are two subspecies within both P. musangus and P. philippinensis, and there might be at least two or three subspecies within P. hermaphroditus. We found a very low genetic diversity and no geographical structure within P. zeylonensis and did not find any support for splitting P. zeylonensis into several species nor subspecies. Finally, we confirmed that P. jerdoni and P. zeylonensis are sister species.

Keywords: Asia; taxonomy; palm civets; Paradoxurus; Viverridae; Molecular systematics

Paradoxurus m. musangus 'Toddy Cat' from MacRitchie forest, Singapore
photo: Francis Yap |

Paradoxurus m. musangus from  Singapore Botanic Garden
photo: Chung Yi Fei

Géraldine Veron, Marie-Lilith Patou, Mária Tóth, Manori Goonatilake and Andrew P. Jennings. 2014. How Many Species of Paradoxurus Civets are there? New Insights from India and Sri Lanka. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research. 1-14. doi:

 The common palm civet, Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, has been split into three species by a recent study (Veron et al., 2014). The name Paradoxurus hermaphroditus is restricted to the populations in India, southern China and Indo-china (henceforth as Indian palm civet). The form in Singapore, peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Java is Paradoxurus musangus (Sumatran palm civet), named by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1821 as Viverra musanga based on animals from Sumatra. Those in Borneo and the Philippines are Paradoxurus philippinensis (Philippine palm civet)

Marcus A. H. Chua & Fung Tze Kwan. 2014. Sumatran palm civet at Grange Road. Singapore Biodiversity Records. 2014

[Ichthyology • 2014] Limatulichthys nasarcus • A New Species of Limatulichthys Isbrücker & Nijssen (Loricariidae, Loricariinae) from the western Guiana Shield

Limatulichthys nasarcus
Londoño-Burbano, Lefebvre & Lujan, 2014

Limatulichthys nasarcus n. sp. is described as a new species based on 15 specimens from the Ventuari and Caura Rivers in Southern Venezuela. The new species can be distinguished from its only congener, L. griseus, by the presence of anterior abdominal plates half the size of those at center of abdomen (vs. plates similar in size); distinct spots less than half of diameter of naris across entire dorsum, including snout and head (vs. indistinct dorsal spots larger or equal than diameter of naris); lateral portions of head and opercle with dark well-defined spots larger than those on dorsum (vs. spots on lateral portions of head and opercle equal in size to those on remainder of body); snout profile in dorsal view broadly rounded (vs. acutely triangular); head longer (21.4–24.2 SL vs. 17.7–21.0%); and anal fin longer (15.7–18.0 SL vs. 13.7–15.6%). Distinctiveness of the two species is further supported by their non-overlapping distribution in multivariate morphospace. The disjunct distribution of L. nasarcus across both the Caura and Ventuari rivers exclusive of the main Orinoco River channel contributes to a growing body of evidence supporting the historical connection between headwaters of these drainages. The hypothesized existence of a ‘proto-Berbice’ paleodrainage provides one explanation for such a connection.

Keywords: Limatulichthys, Neotropics, taxonomy, Ventuari, Caura

Londoño-Burbano, A., Lefebvre, S.L. & Lujan, N.K. 2014. A New Species of Limatulichthys Isbrücker & Nijssen (Loricariidae, Loricariinae) from the western Guiana Shield. Zootaxa. 3884(4): 360–370.

[Ichthyology • 2014] Hirtella carinata • A Remarkable Sexually Dimorphic New Genus and Species of Neoplecostomine Catfish (Siluriformes, Loricariidae) from a Coastal Drainage of Eastern Brazil

Hirtella carinata
 Pereira, Zanata, Cetra & Reis, 2014

A new neoplecostomine genus and species is described from headwater tributaries of the lower Rio Pardo basin, a coastal drainage in Bahia, eastern Brazil. Hirtella carinata is a small loricariid with a maximum standard length barely reaching 50 mm. The new genus and species are diagnosed among all other loricariids by a unique, remarkable pattern of sexual dimorphism in which adult males have five conspicuous longitudinal rows of bristle-like hypertrophied odontodes on the head and along the lateral dermal plates of the body. Hirtella is further distinguished from most loricariids by the anterior position of the pelvic fin, which originates in a vertical anterior to the nuchal plate, and by the possession of an elongate keel formed by 15–17 azygous plates along the mid-dorsal line between the dorsal and the caudal fins. Hirtella is additionally distinguished from other members of the Neoplecostominae by having a medium sized palatine splint, never reaching the anterior border of the nasal fossa. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that Hirtella is the sister taxon of Pareiorhina. The description of this new genus raises to six the number of currently recognized genera in the Neoplecostominae.

Um novo gênero e espécie de neoplecostomíneo é descrito das cabeceiras de tributários do baixo Rio Pardo, drenagem costeira da Bahia, leste do Brasil. Hirtella carinata é um pequeno loricarídeo que atinge quase 50 mm de comprimento padrão. O novo gênero e espécie são diagnosticados de todos os demais loricarídeos por um único e notável padrão de dimorfismo sexual, em que os machos adultos possuem um conjunto de odontódeos hipertrofiados na cabeça e ao longo das placas laterais do corpo que formam cinco linhas longitudinais evidentes. Hirtella é também distinguido da maioria dos loricarídeos pela posição anterior das nadadeiras pélvicas, que se originam em uma vertical anterior a placa nucal e pela presença de uma longa quilha formada por 15–17 placas ázigas na linha média dorsal, entre as nadadeiras dorsal e caudal. Hirtella é ainda distinguido dos outros membros de Neoplecostominae por ter o palatine splint de tamanho médio, nunca alcançando a borda anterior da abertura nasal. A análise filogenética atual indica que Hirtella é o táxon irmão de Pareiorhina. A descrição desse novo gênero eleva para seis o número de gêneros atualmente reconhecidos em Neoplecostominae.

Edson H. L. Pereira, Angela Zanata, Maurício Cetra, and Roberto E. Reis. 2014. A Remarkable Sexually Dimorphic New Genus and Species of Neoplecostomine Catfish (Siluriformes, Loricariidae) from a Coastal Drainage of Eastern Brazil. Copeia. 2014(4):673-681. DOI: 10.1643/CI-14-075

Saturday, November 15, 2014

[Botany • 2014] Trachycarpus ravenii • A New Species (Arecaceae, Corypheae) from Vientiane province of central Laos

Trachycarpus ravenii Aver. & K. S. Nguyen
[left] Natural habitats of Trachycarpus ravenii sp. nov. in central Laos (Vientiane province, Kasi district). (a) primary intact semideciduous forest on steep slopes of Phachao Mountain at elevation 1650–1700 m a.s.l. (Namken village area) || photo by N. S. Khang 
[upper right] Male specimen, [lower right] Female specimen || photos by L. Averyanov
 DOI: 10.1111/j.1756-1051.2013.00304.x |

A new species Trachycarpus ravenii discovered in Kasi district, Vientiane province of central Laos is described and illustrated. Morphologically, it is closest to T. oreophilus and T. princeps, but differs by having a shorter stem of mature plants; glabrous, dull green petiole; almost circular leaf blade, waxy bluish–white abaxially; narrow leaf segments with narrow free lobes densely adpressed to each other, as well as in oblique-round apices of median leaf segments.

Figure 1. Trachycarpus ravenii sp. nov.
Male specimen, d-exsiccates of Vietnamese flora 200/LA-VN 725.
All photos and design by L. Averyanov
Figure 2. Trachycarpus ravenii sp. nov.
Female specimen, d-exsiccates of Vietnamese flora 201/LA-VN 726.
All photos and design by L. Averyanov.

Figure 3. Natural habitats of Trachycarpus ravenii sp. nov. in central Laos (Vientiane province, Kasi district).
 (a) primary intact semideciduous forest on steep slopes of Phachao Mountain at elevation 1650–1700 m a.s.l. (Namken village area), (b) forestless mountain slopes with rocky limestone outcrops among secondary grasslands and open secondary scrub at elevation about 1700 m a.s.l. (Thong Mout village area).
All photos by N. S. Khang | DOI: 10.1111/j.1756-1051.2013.00304.x

Averyanov, L. V., Nguyen, K. S., Nguyen, T. H., Pham, T. V. and Lorphengsy, S. 2014. Trachycarpus ravenii sp. nov. (Arecaceae, Corypheae) from central Laos. Nordic Journal of Botany. 32(5); 563–568. doi: 10.1111/j.1756-1051.2013.00304.x

[Ichthyology • 2014] Mugilogobius hitam • A New Species of Freshwater Goby (Teleostei: Gobioidei: Gobiidae) from Lake Towuti, central Sulawesi, Indonesia

Black Towuti Goby | Mugilogobius hitam
Larson, Geiger, Hadiaty & Herder, 2014

A new species of Mugilogobius is described from Lake Towuti, central Sulawesi, diagnosed by its possession of a distinct transverse sensory papilla pattern on the cheek, overall blackish colour on head, body and fins and relatively large adult size for the genus. Although it may superficially resemble the black goby Mugilogobius amadi from Lake Poso, M. hitam, new species, lacks the numerous predorsal scales (22–36 in M. amadi versus 17–19), high second dorsal fin ray count (I,9, usually I,10, versus I,7–8) and narrow head and protruding chin of M. amadi. Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COI) data provide clear support for the species status of M. hitam, new species,
indicate that all the Malili Lakes Mugilogobius may well represent a species flock and place M. sarasinorum from Lake Poso as its most likely sister taxon. In addition to the tectonic lake species, we report the occurrence of M. latifrons in streams of the Malili Lakes drainage.

Key words. Mugilogobius, Gobiidae, taxonomy, Sulawesi, Lake Towuti, freshwater fish, endemism

Helen K. Larson, Matthias F. Geiger, Renny Kurnia Hadiaty and Fabian Herder. 2014. Mugilogobius hitam, A New Species of Freshwater Goby (Teleostei: Gobioidei: Gobiidae) from Lake Towuti, central Sulawesi, Indonesia. RAFFLES BULLETIN OF ZOOLOGY. 62: 718–725. 

Mugilogobius fasciatus Larson, 2001
Mugilogobius filifer Larson, 2001 (Threadfin mangrove goby) 
Mugilogobius littoralis Larson, 2001 (Beachrock mangrove goby) 
Mugilogobius lepidotus Larson, 2001
Mugilogobius rexi Larson, 2001
Mugilogobius rivulus Larson, 2001 (Drain mangrove goby) 
Mugilogobius tigrinus Larson, 2001
Mugilogobius wilsoni Larson, 2001 (Wilson's mangrove goby) 

Mugilogobius nuicocensis V. H. Nguyễn & V. B. Vo, 2005 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

[Herpetology • 2014] Tylototriton shanorum • A New Species of Tylototriton (Amphibia: Urodela: Salamandridae) from Central Myanmar

Figure 3. Photograph of specimens of Tylototriton verrucosus verrucosus from Myanmar (A and B: dorsal and ventral views of CAS 230940 [male]; C: dorsal view of CAS 230933 [female]), dorsal view of male topotype of T. verrucosus verrucosus (D), and dorsal view of male holotype of T. uyenoi (E). Scale bar = 20 mm.
Figure 4. Photograph of dorsal head of specimens of Tylototriton verrucosus verrucosus from Myanmar (A: CAS 230940 [male]; B: CAS 230933 [female]), male topotype of T. v. verrucosus (C), and male holotype of T. uyenoi (D). Scale bar = 10 mm.

We describe a new species of Tylototriton from Taunggyi, Shan State, central Myanmar, based on molecular and morphological evidence. The new species, Tylototriton shanorum, is classified as a member of the subgenus Tylototriton. The species differs morphologically from all known congeners by having the combination of dull-colored markings, weakly protruding dorsolateral bony ridges on head, narrow and weakly segmented vertebral ridge, and narrow vomerine tooth series. The taxonomic relationship between T. verrucosus and T. shanjing is briefly discussed based on the molecular phylogeny obtained in this study.

Key words: Tylototriton, morphology, new species, Myanmar

 Kanto Nishikawa, Masafumi Matsui and Dingqi Rao. 2014. A New Species of Tylototriton (Amphibia: Urodela: Salamandridae) from Central Myanmar. The Natural History Bulletin of the Siam Society. 60(1):9-22.

[Paleontology • 2014] Garjainia madiba • A New Species of Garjainia Ochev, 1958 (Diapsida: Archosauriformes: Erythrosuchidae) from the Early Triassic of South Africa

 Life reconstruction of Garjainia madiba sp. nov.
Total adult body length would have been approximately 2.5 metres, based on comparisons with G. prima.
Reconstruction by Mark Witton 


A new species of the erythrosuchid archosauriform reptile Garjainia Ochev, 1958 is described on the basis of disarticulated but abundant and well-preserved cranial and postcranial material from the late Early Triassic (late Olenekian) Subzone A of the Cynognathus Assemblage Zone of the Burgersdorp Formation (Beaufort Group) of the Karoo Basin of South Africa. The new species, G. madiba, differs from its unique congener, G. prima from the late Olenekian of European Russia, most notably in having large bony bosses on the lateral surfaces of the jugals and postorbitals. The new species also has more teeth and a proportionately longer postacetabular process of the ilium than G. prima. Analysis of G. madiba bone histology reveals thick compact cortices comprised of highly vascularized, rapidly forming fibro-lamellar bone tissue, similar to Erythrosuchus africanus from Subzone B of the Cynognathus Assemblage Zone. The most notable differences between the two taxa are the predominance of a radiating vascular network and presence of annuli in the limb bones of G. madiba. These features indicate rapid growth rates, consistent with data for many other Triassic archosauriforms, but also a high degree of developmental plasticity as growth remained flexible. The diagnoses of Garjainia and of Erythrosuchidae are addressed and revised. Garjainia madiba is the geologically oldest erythrosuchid known from the Southern Hemisphere, and demonstrates that erythrosuchids achieved a cosmopolitan biogeographical distribution by the end of the Early Triassic, within five million years of the end-Permian mass extinction event. It provides new insights into the diversity of the Subzone A vertebrate assemblage, which partially fills a major gap between classic ‘faunal’ assemblages from the older Lystrosaurus Assemblage Zone (earliest Triassic) and the younger Subzone B of the Cynognathus Assemblage Zone (early Middle Triassic).

David J. Gower, P. John Hancox, Jennifer Botha-Brink, Andrey G. Sennikov and Richard J. Butler. 2014. A New Species of Garjainia Ochev, 1958 (Diapsida: Archosauriformes: Erythrosuchidae) from the Early Triassic of South Africa. PLoS ONE.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111154.g030 

[Invertebrate • 2014] First Molecular Data and the Phylogenetic Position of the Millipede-Like Centipede Edentistoma octosulcatum Tömösváry, 1882 (Chilopoda: Scolopendromorpha: Scolopendridae)

Figure 1. Edentistoma octosulcatum and its habitat.
A, Forcipular segment in ventral view; B, alluvial forest where specimen was collected in March 2013;
C–D, specimen used for DNA sequencing. C, walking; D, coiled.


Edentistoma octosulcatum Tömösváry, 1882, is a rare, superficially millipede-like centipede known only from Borneo and the Philippines. It is unique within the order Scolopendromorpha for its slow gait, robust tergites, and highly modified gizzard and mandible morphology. Not much is known about the biology of the species but it has been speculated to be arboreal with a possibly vegetarian diet. Until now its phylogenetic position within the subfamily Otostigminae has been based only on morphological characters, being variably ranked as a monotypic tribe (Arrhabdotini) or classified with the Southeast Asian genus Sterropristes Attems, 1934. The first molecular data for E. octosulcatum sourced from a newly collected specimen from Sarawak were analysed with and without morphology. Parsimony analysis of 122 morphological characters together with two nuclear and two mitochondrial loci resolves Edentistoma as sister group to three Indo-Australian species of Rhysida, this clade in turn grouping with Ethmostigmus, whereas maximum likelihood and parsimony analyses of the molecular data on their own ally Edentistoma with species of Otostigmus. A position of Edentistoma within Otostigmini (rather than being its sister group as predicted by the Arrhabdotini hypothesis) is consistently retrieved under different analytical conditions, but support values within the subfamily remain low for most nodes. The species exhibits strong pushing behaviour, suggestive of burrowing habits. Evidence against a suggested vegetarian diet is provided by observation of E. octosulcatum feeding on millipedes in the genus Trachelomegalus.

Varpu Vahtera and Gregory D. Edgecombe. 2014. First Molecular Data and the Phylogenetic Position of the Millipede-Like Centipede Edentistoma octosulcatum Tömösváry, 1882 (Chilopoda: Scolopendromorpha: Scolopendridae).

PLoS ONE. 9(11): e112461. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112461

[Herpetology • 2014] Herpetofaunal Community of A High Canopy Tank Bromeliad Aechmea zebrina in the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve of Amazonian Ecuador, with comments on the use of “arboreal” in the herpetological literature

Fig. 2. (B) A community of Aechmea zebrina bromeliads at ~38 m (in situ). 
Fig. 3. A collection of anurans collected from Aechmea zebrina bromeliads.
 (A) Pristimantis aureolineatus hiding in leaf axil, (E) Ranitomeya ventrimaculata and (F) Scinax ruber collected from Azebrina bromeliads.

Tank bromeliads provide microhabitat that supports a high diversity of organisms in the harsh environment of tropical forest canopies. Most studies of organisms occupying tank bromeliads have focused on invertebrates found within bromeliads near or at ground level. Few investigations of vertebrate communities utilizing this keystone resource are available. We describe the amphibian and reptile community occupying the high canopy tank bromeliad, Aechmea zebrina, in lowland rainforest of the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve in the Amazon Basin of Ecuador. We used single-rope climbing techniques to sample a total of 160 A. zebrina bromeliads from 32 trees, at heights of 18.3 to 45.5 m above ground. We collected 10 metamorphosed anuran species, one gecko, one snake, and observed two species of lizard within bromeliads. Summary statistics for a suite of environmental factors associated with herpetofauna in A. zebrina bromeliads are reported. We estimated the density of anurans occupying A. zebrina communities and contrast these estimates with anuran densities from tropical forest floor anuran studies. Finally, we discuss the use of the term “arboreal” within the herpetological literature, and make recommendations for terminology used to describe the vertical space occupied by a species or assemblage.

Key words. Amphibian, anuran, epiphyte, forest, microhabitat, rainforest, reptile

Shawn F. McCracken and Michael R. J. Forstner. 2014. Herpetofaunal Community of A High Canopy Tank Bromeliad (Aechmea zebrina) in the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve of Amazonian Ecuador, with comments on the use of “arboreal” in the herpetological literature. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation. 8(1) [Special Section]: 65–75 (e83).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

[Paleontology • 2014] Origin of the Unique Ventilatory Apparatus of Turtles

The turtle body plan differs markedly from that of other vertebrates and serves as a model system for studying structural and developmental evolution. Incorporation of the ribs into the turtle shell negates the costal movements that effect lung ventilation in other air-breathing amniotes. Instead, turtles have a unique abdominal-muscle-based ventilatory apparatus whose evolutionary origins have remained mysterious. Here we show through broadly comparative anatomical and histological analyses that an early member of the turtle stem lineage has several turtle-specific ventilation characters: rigid ribcage, inferred loss of intercostal muscles and osteological correlates of the primary expiratory muscle. Our results suggest that the ventilation mechanism of turtles evolved through a division of labour between the ribs and muscles of the trunk in which the abdominal muscles took on the primary ventilatory function, whereas the broadened ribs became the primary means of stabilizing the trunk. These changes occurred approximately 50 million years before the evolution of the fully ossified shell.


Tyler R. Lyson, Emma R. Schachner, Jennifer Botha-Brink,  Torsten M. Scheyer, Markus Lambertz, G. S. Bever, Bruce S. Rubidge & Kevin de Queiroz. 2014. Origin of the Unique Ventilatory Apparatus of Turtles. Nature Communications. 5, Article number: 5211

Monday, November 10, 2014

[Ornithology / Conservation • 2014] Gurney’s Pitta Pitta gurneyi in Thailand—from Rediscovery to Extinction in Just 28 Years

Fig. 1. Gurney’s Pitta Pitta gurneyi [นกแต้วแล้วท้องดำ] female (left) and male (right),
photographed near Ban Bang Tieo, Khlong Thom District, Krabi
(Photo by Kanit Khanikul).

The Thai-Burmese endemic bird, Gurney’s Pitta Pitta gurneyi, appears to be practically extinct in its last known Thai location around the mountain of Khao Nor Chuchi, Krabi and Trang Provinces. Conservation measures implemented since the rediscovery of the species in 1986 proved inadequate to safeguard an appropriately large area of its lowland forest habitat, most of which has been cleared illegally by rubber and oil-palm growers. The last known birds in 2013–2014 were three related individuals from an estimated population of 10–15 pairs in year 2000. This has important implications for the fate of other lowland biota, still inadequately represented in Thailand’s network of (mainly mountainous) parks and sanctuaries. Captive breeding of Gurney’s Pittas is futile without a prior realistic commitment to rehabilitate and restore a large and viable area of lowland rainforest within its former range. Conservation efforts should now be concentrated in Southern Myanmar where a significant population of Gurney’s Pittas remains.

Key words: conservation, Khao Nor Chuchi, Khao Pra-Bang Khram, Krabi, lowland forest loss, 
Pitta gurneyi

PHILIP D. ROUND. 2014. Gurney’s Pitta in Thailand—from Rediscovery to Extinction in Just 28 Years. NAT. HIST. BULL. SIAM. SOC. 60(1): 3–8

[Herpetology • 2014] The Phylogenetic Position and Taxonomic Status of the Rainbow Tree Snake Gonyophis margaritatus (Peters, 1871) (Squamata: Colubridae)

Royal Tree Snake – Gonyophis margaritatus (Peters, 1871)

Molecular phylogenies have provided strong evidence for clarifying the taxonomy of groups with ambiguous morphological traits, thus avoiding potentially misleading conclusions based on evolutionary convergence of these traits. For snakes, established molecular databases along with new sequences from rare species allows us to estimate phylogenies, to clarify the phylogenetic relationships and test the monophyly of most taxonomic groups. Using one mitochondrial gene and five nuclear loci, we evaluate the taxonomic status of a rare Southeast Asian serpent, the Rainbow Tree Snake Gonyophis margaritatus (Squamata: Colubridae) by inferring a molecular phylogeny of 101 snake species. Both maximum likelihood and time- calibrated Bayesian inference phylogenies demonstrate that G. margaritatus is sister to Rhadinophis prasinus, previously considered to be part of a radiation of Old World ratsnakes. This group is in turn sister to a group containing Rhadinophis frenatus and Rhynchophis boulengeri with the entire clade originating in the mid-Miocene (~16 Ma) in Southeast Asia. This group is sister to the genus Gonyosoma and together originated in the early Miocene (~20 Ma). We discuss three potential solutions towards eliminating polyphyly of the genus Rhadinophis, but recommend using the genus name Gonyosoma for all species within this clade, which currently contains all of the species within the genera Gonyosoma, Gonyophis, Rhadinophis, and Rhynchophis.

Keywords: Gonyophis, Gonyosoma, molecular phylogeny, polyphyly, Rhadinophis, Rhynchophis

Gonyosoma margaritatum Peters, 1871 Gonyosoma prasinum (Blyth 1854)
Gonyosoma frenatum (Gray, 1853) Gonyosoma oxycephalum (Boie 1827)

Gonyosoma Wagler 
Gonyosoma Wagler, 1828. Type species Gonyosoma oxycephalum (Boie)
Gonyophis Boulenger, 1891. Type species Gonyophis margaritatus (Peters), by monotypy Syn.n.
Rhadinophis Vogt, 1922. Type species Rhadinophis frenatus (Gray) Syn.n. 
Rhynchophis Mocquard, 1897. Type species Rhynchophis boulengeri Mocquard, by monotypy Syn.n.

 Species synonymized into the genus Gonyosoma.
Gonyosoma margaritatum Peters, 1871
Gonyosoma frenatum (Gray, 1853)
Gonyosoma prasinum (Blyth 1854)
Gonyosoma boulengeri (Mocquard 1897)
Gonyosoma oxycephalum (Boie 1827)
Gonyosoma jansenii (Bleeker 1859)

Chen, Xin, Alexander D. Mckelvy, L. L. Grismer, Masafumi Matsui, Kanto Nishikawa & Frank T. Burbrink. 2014. The Phylogenetic Position and Taxonomic Status of the Rainbow Tree Snake Gonyophis margaritatus (Peters, 1871) (Squamata: Colubridae).
Zootaxa. 3881(6): 532–548. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3881.6.3

Sunday, November 9, 2014

[Herpetology • 2003] Gongylosoma mukutense | Mukut Smooth Snake • A New Species of Gonglyosoma (Squamata: Colubridae) from Pulau Tioman, West Malaysia

Mukut Smooth Snake | Gongylosoma mukutense (Holotype - ZRC.2.5143).

A new species of Gongylosoma is described from Pulau Tioman, a small island 38 km off the southeast coast of Pahang, West Malaysia, in the South China Sea. This species differs from all other Gongylosoma in having a single, enlarged, posterior temporal; chinshields of equal size; and a thin nuchal band that contacts a vestigial vertebral stripe. The new species forms a clade with G. nicobariense from the Nicobar Islands and G. longicauda from Borneo, Java, and Sumatra and is the sister species of the latter.

Keywords: Biogeography, Gongylosoma, Liopeltis, Malaysia, Pulau Tioman

Grismer, L.L.; Indraneil Das, and Tzi Ming Leong 2003. A New Species of Gonglyosoma (Squamata: Colubridae) from Pulau Tioman, West Malaysia. Herpetologica. 59(4):565-572.  DOI:  10.1655/02-38

Friday, November 7, 2014

[Herpetology • 2014] Paroedura hordiesi • A New Species of Nocturnal Gecko (Paroedura) from Karstic Limestone in northern Madagascar

Paroedura hordiesi 
Glaw, Rösler, Ineich, Gehring, Köhler & Vences, 2014
Figure 2. Paratypes of Paroedura hordiesi: (A) adult male ZSM 531/2000 (SVL 53.5 mm) in dorsolateral view; (B) adult female ZSM 2113/2007 (SVL 46.1 mm) in dorsal view; (C ) subadult ZSM 2107/2007 in lateral view; (D ) juvenile (ZSM 2106/2007, SVL 28.1 mm) and subadult (ZSM 2107/2007, SVL 35.2 mm) in dorsolateral view

Paroedura hordiesi sp. n. is described from Montagne des Français, a karstic limestone massif in the far north of Madagascar recently established as nature reserve. The new species has the nostril in contact with the rostral scale and shares many characters with P. karstophila and especially with P. homalorhina which are also restricted to karstic habitats. Paroedura hordiesi differs from P. karstophila by a smoother skin on dorsum and legs, by original and regenerated tails being both entirely smooth, by colouration, and by larger snout-vent length. Morphologically the new species is most similar to P. homalorhina from the Ankarana reserve from which it can be distinguished by shorter limbs and a less slender habitus. Published molecular data place the new species as close relative of P. homalorhina and another undescribed species from Nosy Hara Island, while newly determined data of the cox1 gene for P. karstophila confirm the distinctness of the new species from this taxon. Integrating the information from published and novel molecular data, the new species differs from all nominal Paroedura (except P. vahiny for which no molecular data are available to date) by strong genetic divergences. P. hordiesi might be another microendemic species of the Montagne des Français region. We suggest its IUCN Red List classification as “Critically Endangered” on the basis that it has an extent of occurrence of at most 50 km², it is known from a single location, and there is a continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat.

Key Words: Squamata, Gekkonidae, Paroedura, new species, Madagascar, Montagne des Français conservation

 Frank Glaw, Herbert Rösler, Ivan Ineich, Philip-Sebastian Gehring, Jörn Köhler and Miguel Vences. 2014. A New Species of Nocturnal Gecko (Paroedura) from Karstic Limestone in northern Madagascar. Zoosystematics and Evolution. 90(2); 249-259. DOI: 10.3897/zse.90.8705

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

[Herpetology • 2014] The Breeding Behaviour, Advertisement Call and Tadpole of Limnonectes dabanus (Anura: Dicroglossidae)

FIGURE 1. (A) Adult male Limnonectes dabanus (AMS R 173212/UNS0288) and (B) adult female L. dabanus (AMS R 173213). (C) Same adult male, M, and female, F, in seep area beneath an overhanging boulder with eggs on the ceiling (yellow up arrow) and floor (yellow down arrow). (D) Same adult female in same location, surrounded by eggs (yellow arrows).


Fanged frogs (Limnonectes) are a group of dicroglossid frogs from Asia that often have reversed sexual dimorphism with larger males. Limnonectes dabanus is a poorly known species of fanged frog from forested habitats in southern Vietnam and eastern Cambodia. Adult males exhibit an extreme degree of megacephaly and possess bizarre head ornamentation. L. dabanus breeds in shallow, non-flowing or very slow-flowing pools, puddles, and drainage ditches. Eggs are laid as a widely spaced array, and the larvae have a morphology typical of pond-dwelling tadpoles. Although males of the species lack vocal sacs, they produce a low-pitched (0.4–0.6 kHz), single-note advertisement call that sounds like a drop of water falling into water. Given the spacing of calling males, presence of multiple females near breeding sites, and reversed sexual dimorphism, the mating system of L. dabanus may be an example of resource-defense polygyny, and the massive head of the male is likely used in male combat.

Keywords: acoustics, amphibian, larvae, reproductive behaviour, Southeast Asia

Rowley, Jodi J. L., Duong T. T. Le, Duc H. Hoang & Ronald Altig. 2014. The Breeding Behaviour, Advertisement Call and Tadpole of Limnonectes dabanus (Anura: Dicroglossidae). Zootaxa. 3881(2): 195–200. DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.3881.2.8